What is Sun Allergy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Sun allergy is a type of allergy that can manifest itself as redness, irritation, skin rash and blistering, which occurs when people with sensitive skin are exposed to sunlight for a long time. Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to sun allergy, or sun allergy may occur due to sensitivity resulting from exposure to other allergens. Sunburns may occur when the skin is exposed to the sun for a long time without protection. Many people confuse sunburns with sun allergies. Sunburns occur as a result of excessive exposure to ultraviolet light. Burns can occur naturally due to excessive exposure to sunlight, or they can occur artificially due to devices used for tanning purposes or sun lamps. Sunburns show symptoms such as redness, pain and blisters when exposed to the sun for a long time. These symptoms, which usually occur within 10-30 hours, can be treated with various medications. It may take a few days for symptoms to completely resolve. Unlike sunburns, sun allergies may show symptoms within 5-10 minutes, but sometimes this may take several days.
What are the symptoms of sun allergy?
Although sun allergy generally occurs in areas that come into contact with the sun, various symptoms can sometimes be observed in other parts of the body. Sun allergy symptoms can be listed as follows:
- Itching and redness,
- Irritation and discharge,
- Nodule, blisters on the skin surface and urticaria (hives),
- Stinging and burning sensation,
- Pain and swelling.
Rarely, sun allergy may cause the following symptoms:
- Moderate and severe headaches,
- Life-threatening anaphylaxis seizures,
- feeling dizzy,
- Fainting and loss of consciousness,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Shortness of breath and obstruction in the respiratory tract.
What Causes Sun Allergy?
The appearance of symptoms caused by sun allergy may vary from person to person. Sometimes symptoms appear within minutes, sometimes they may appear hours or even days later.
The cause of sun allergies has not been fully found. Many scientists say that hereditary predispositions can cause sun allergies. Some scientists think that histamine and some similar proteins may create various immune responses during sun exposure. In light of all this information, it can be said that the cause of sun allergies may differ from person to person.
The duration of sun exposure, the width of the skin surface exposed to the sun and the intensity of sunlight are some directly effective factors.
Some medications used cause allergies by creating sensitivity to the sun. These drugs; These may be antibiotics, chemotherapy, cardiac, diuretic and diabetes group drugs.
What are the Types of Sun Allergy?
There are many types of sun allergies. Allergy types vary depending on the type of rash and its cause.
- Solar Urticaria: It is the rarest type of sun allergy. Mild and severe symptoms such as severe redness, rash, swelling, irritation and hives may occur even in very short periods of exposure to the sun.
- Actinic Keratosis: This type of sun allergy is thought to be caused by hereditary reasons. Areas of the skin that are not exposed to sunlight may also be affected. It is generally more common in darker-skinned populations. They are popularly known as age spots. It is a skin damage that usually occurs in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun for a long time and develops over time.
- Photoallergic Reaction: Many chemicals are used on the skin surface for cosmetic and dermocosmetic purposes. This type of allergy occurs when one of these chemicals applied to the skin surface reacts with sunlight. This chemical could be sunscreen, serum, make-up, medicine or perfume. The time it takes for symptoms to appear varies from person to person and may occur within hours or days.
- Polymorphous Light Spray (PMLE): It is the most common type of sun allergy. One or more symptoms may be observed several hours after sun exposure. These symptoms; red bumps, rashes and blisters. It is a type of allergy that is more common in light-skinned people, adults and women.
How is Sun Allergy Diagnosed?
If sun allergy is suspected, contact your primary care provider or a dermatologist. Your health advisor:
- Evaluates your symptoms,
- Evaluates the chemicals and medications you use,
- It tries to find the factors that cause the reaction through various light tests and patch tests,
- If all these are insufficient, a piece of the skin surface taken by biopsy is examined under a microscope.
Diagnostic methods used in sun allergy should be performed by expert dermatologists, and further tests are performed if necessary. We can list the diagnostic methods as follows:
- Blood Tests: Used to detect allergy level.
- Phototest (UV Ray Test): It is a test performed to examine the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet rays of different wavelengths.
- Patch Test: As the name suggests, substances that are thought to cause allergies are applied to the skin and waited for a day, the skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from artificial sun lamps and the reactions on the skin are observed.
- Skin Biopsy: It is a method requested by a specialist dermatologist when the diagnostic tests described above are insufficient. It may also need to be done in a sterile environment under the control of expert dermatologists. It is also a method used to determine whether the allergy is caused by another existing metabolic disorder.
How to Treat Sun Allergy?
The first rule in the treatment of sun allergy is, of course, to avoid the sun. In people who cannot adequately protect themselves from the sun or in elderly patients, phototherapy, antihistamine use, montelukast use, corticosteroid use and some anti-itch creams may be helpful.
What are the methods for preventing sun allergies?
Individuals with sun allergies should minimize their exposure to the sun by taking some precautions. To list what needs to be done for this:
- Use of Sunscreen: Especially in the summer, it is a very important issue not only for those with sun allergies but for everyone. It is necessary to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50. Sunscreen should be applied at an amount of 2 mg per square centimeter. This amount is just enough for the face and corresponds to approximately ⅓ teaspoon. For convenience in daily use, you can use sunscreen along your index and middle fingers. Sunscreens should be renewed every 2 hours. However, in case of sweating or immersion in water, it should be refreshed without waiting for the 2-hour period to expire.
- Protection from Sun Rays: It is necessary to avoid sun rays as much as possible, especially during some hours during the day. These hours cover between 10.00 and 15.00.
- Use of Sunglasses
- Sun Protective Clothing
- Avoiding Allergenic Substances
- Avoiding the Use of Photosensitive Drugs and Chemicals
Sun Allergy in Children and Babies
Vitamin D is especially important for the development of babies, so sunlight that activates this vitamin is needed. Babies and children have much more sensitive skin than adults. All the symptoms seen in adults with sun allergy are also observed in babies and children. At the same time, the precautions to be taken are also similar. Children and babies should not be exposed to the sun as much as possible between 10.00-15.00. As with adults, sunscreen should be applied generously to areas exposed to the sun and renewed every 2 hours.
Babies should not be exposed to the sun for more than one hour. They need to be accustomed to the sun by gradually increasing the time they spend in the sun.
Especially in babies with dermatitis, the sun can cause more serious reactions, so when it is necessary to be outside, it is necessary to use sun-protective clothes, hats and perfume-free sunscreen creams.
If you suspect the possibility of sun allergy, do not forget to meet with the expert dermatologists at our hospital and visit the page to access the information you are curious about about your health in the most reliable way.