What Is Sun Allergy? Types, Causes, Signs, And Treatments

Summer might be here and it’s all fun and games until the very thing you’re allergic to is blaring under everyone. Sun allergy is more common than you think and if you notice the symptoms mentioned below, pay an allergy doctor a visit before the problem becomes severe.

What Is Sun Allergy?

Sun allergy, also known as photosensitivity, is an allergic reaction that occurs on the skin when it is exposed to the sun. It can cause painful and itchy blisters, rashes, and red patches on the skin that can be extremely uncomfortable.

Sun allergy is aggravated when your immune system can’t fight against the harmful UV rays and this is what eventually causes your body to go into fight or flight mode. Your body tries to fight off the invasion by producing nasty patches and itchy bumps on the skin and it can be really uncomfortable, itchy, and downright painful. Photosensitivity can occur in people of any age group.

Types Of Sun Allergy

There are 4 major types of sun allergies, which are as follows:

Actinic Prurigo

Actinic prurigo is a hereditary sun allergy. It is a chronic disease that causes the skin to get flaky, scaly, and red after sun exposure. It is mostly common in children under the age of 10 and the only way to rectify the condition is to avoid sun exposure at all costs.

Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE)

This is an allergy that a lot of people with fair skin tone face. There can be a time after winter when the skin isn’t adjusted to the hotness of the sun and if there is a lot of sun exposure on fair skin, then it can not only cause tanning, but blisters and hyperpigmentation can occur as well.

Photoallergic Reaction

This is not an allergic reaction caused directly because of the sun, rather it’s the reaction of certain ingredients that you put on the skin with the UV rays. Vitamin C is a photosensitive ingredient and it’s recommended that you don’t expose your skin to the sun after applying it.

There can also be chemicals in lotions, face creams, and even body balms that can cause a photoallergic reaction.

Solar Urticaria

Urticaria is mainly hives, but solar urticaria is the condition that leads to the production of red, itchy bumps all over the skin when there is sun exposure. This is also a very rare sun-related allergy that can be caused by the hyper-response of the immune system after being exposed to UV rays. It can also occur in children and in people who have a very fair skin tone.

Symptoms can include the formation of red welts that are very bumpy and itchy and there might also be fever associated with the exposure to UV rays.

Causes Of Sun Allergy

The main cause of sun allergy isn’t the big ball of fire, but the UV rays that it emits. UV, also known as ultraviolet rays can be very harmful to human beings and other living organisms. However, not everyone has a major and life-threatening sensitivity to the sun.

This can boil down to the fact that there might be genetic causes that can trigger the immune system to act a certain way when there is exposure to sunlight on the skin.

Usually, sun allergy is genetic and familial, so if someone has a history of sun allergy, it will probably be passed down to other members of the family as well.

Other things that might cause sun allergy include the use of:

  • Face and skin topical creams that contain ingredients sensitive to UV rays
  • Anti-fungal creams
  • Antibiotics
  • Active agents, like retinol, vitamin C, and salicylic acid
  • Creams containing benzoyl peroxide
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Diuretics
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, etc.

Symptoms Of Sun Allergy

Now that you know what sun allergy is, and how it can potentially be caused, here are some symptoms that you need to look out for and see an allergist Germantown if needed:

  • Upon sun exposure or a few minutes after the fact, the exposed skin might start to turn alarmingly red.
  • There will also be blisters, nodules, welts, and red patches on the skin that will feel very itchy, uncomfortable, and even painful if you press on them too much.
  • Your skin might also get very dry and scaly. You’ll see dry crusts on your skin and if you itch on them too much then it can bleed too.
  • The bumps might also swell to an uncomfortable degree and it can be felt if you’re wearing too tight clothes that are constantly rubbing on the sore and tender welts on the skin.
  • You might also feel a splitting headache.
  • You might feel fatigued and will lose the energy to do work.
  • Nausea and vomiting are also something that can occur, especially if you’re feeling a bit dizzy and lightheaded.
  • Your chest might feel extremely constricted and you’ll find it hard to breathe in and out.
  • The worst-case scenario could be anaphylaxis, and that can occur in the case of solar urticaria. It is essentially the stopping of breathing altogether and it can turn into a medical emergency within minutes. The patient might also lose consciousness and it’s very dangerous if it’s not dealt with immediately.

Treatment & Prevention Of Sun Allergy

Here are some treatment options for sun allergy.

Manage The Symptoms

First things first, you have to manage the symptoms. Usually, when the immune system is under attack, it produces histamine in the body, which is what leads to the symptoms mentioned above. To prevent the symptoms from aggravating, you’re going to need to stop or limit the production of histamine and that’s done by consuming drugs called antihistamines.

Antihistamines are nature’s anti-inflammatory agents and they go into the bloodstream and immediately get rid of any internal swelling and problems that could be making the symptoms worse.

Avoid Exposure To The Sun

Next and probably the most obvious one, is to avoid sun exposure altogether. Try to limit going out during the afternoon, especially when the sun is blaring. Anywhere from 10 am to 2 pm is a bad time to go out in the sun. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever go out in the sun. Evening and early morning sunlight won’t aggravate the symptoms, so you’ll be safe.

You Can Try Phototherapy

It is kind of like immunotherapy but for people with sun allergy. It’s done to exercise your immune system to become more tolerant to the sun so that it doesn’t lead to symptoms as bad as before.

Topical Creams

Use topical creams that help with itching, so that you’re not constantly going at your skin with your nails and causing more damage than there already is.


As for prevention, keep your skin covered at all times, especially when you need to go out in the sun.

Apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day, as it will deflect the UV rays and they won’t be able to penetrate the skin and cause detrimental allergic reactions.


Sun allergy can be troublesome because the only way to prevent your symptoms from flaring up is to avoid the heat and that can be hard. You must go to an allergy center Manassas for diagnosis and treatment.

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