Sun allergy rash, also known as solar urticaria, is a rare skin condition. It’s a form of light sensitivity of the skin that can show symptoms like hives, swelling, and redness. It can cause pain and discomfort! If you are susceptible to such light sensitivity, your SU symptoms may get triggered even through light clothing. The researchers are not completely sure of the causes of solar urticaria. However, it’s prominent that light (sunlight and/or artificial light) causes allergic triggers. Hives usually appear on skin shortly of exposure to sunlight. This condition is an immune response to sunlight and occurs in some sensitive people.
When the symptoms get triggered, it can cause hives to appear on any part of the body. These hives may change shapes, disappear and reappear, move around over short periods of time. The bumps with red/skin color with clear edges generally appear and disappear quickly. There are 2 types of hives, acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).
Despite there’s no direct evidence pointing the exact reason for solar urticaria, researchers believe that it’s due to an antigen-antibody reaction. When people affected by solar urticaria faces UV (natural or artificial), it generates a photo-allergen; a chemical that triggers the immune response of the body. The ultimate results are the swelling, hiving and others.
There are generally 2 types of solar urticaria.
Type 1: An allergic reaction to UV or visible light radiation.
Type 2: Reacts when in contact with another substance like certain dyes, tar or pitch. Some medications can cause the skin to become more photosensitive. That area is more likely to develop solar urticaria.
As of now, there is no way of curing the allergy reaction. However, there are ways to prevent a painful situation.
Avoid the sun during peak hours: Try to avoid sun exposure, especially when the sun shines the brightest (10 A.M. to 4 P.M.).
Avoid sudden exposure to lots of sunlight: A large number of solar urticaria patients suffer more during the spring and the summer when there’s more sunlight. If you are going outside, make sure that you don’t get exposed to a big amount of sunlight suddenly. Let your body adapt with the sunlight gradually.
Wear sunglasses and protective clothing: Long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats will protect you from any sunlight exposure. You should avoid fabrics with thin or loose weaves as they can let the UV pass through them.
Use sunscreen: A broad-spectrum sunscreen with higher SPF count (minimum 30) is always recommended. Apply sunscreen gently. Re-apply every couple hours or more (if you are perspiring or swimming). Protect your lips with sunblock with an SPF of 30 or more.
Avoid known triggers: If you are sure about certain substances causing your skin reaction, avoid these at all cost.
Management and treatment: Most of the acute hives will be gone on their own within a couple of days but they may come back when your skin is exposed to the sun. They may only require a wet, cool compress for reduced itching and swelling. There are some treatments available for solar urticaria.
These drugs fight against the histamines responsible for the reaction. Antihistamines are the best drugs for short-term treatment for solar urticaria. However, they are not effective in preventing the allergic reaction.
This is a long term treatment. The skin is exposed to UV light regularly. The goal is to make the skin become desensitized to UV rays. This can make the situation less severe to nearly gone.
These drugs suppress the immune system. Thus, it successfully prevents the allergy-causing histamines. However, these drugs have potential side-effects and should only be used for extreme and short-term cases.
Sometimes, dietary changes can cause magic. The diet may be aggravating the reaction to sunlight. It’s a complementary solution along with the aforementioned treatments.
When to See a Doctor
If you are having unusual, bothersome skin reactions after exposure to the sunlight, you should go and see your doctor.
These unpleasant inflammatory skin reactions affect about 20% of the population at some point. Thankfully, hives aren’t so serious a condition and there are effective treatments. With some natural remedies, it’s also possible to calm a hive outbreak. For example, household items like witch hazel, baking soda, and oatmeal, etc. are extremely effective in soothing the itching and redness. If your child shows symptoms, Make sure that you are not using any harsh skin care products. You should also avoid tight-fitting clothes and hot baths.
With some cautions and efforts, you can stay free from Urticaria! Click here for other helpful articles. Please feel free to leave a comment.