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Dermatology Blog

How to Prevent Sun Allergy

Who doesn’t get drawn to the outdoors as soon as the warm summer arrives? We’re all tempted to hit the beach or go cycling or enjoy a little natural tanning session outside. However, not everyone is built the same way, and it’s likely for people to experience the sun and its effects in various capacities. Some may get a little tan, while others may go through more adverse effects.

Exposing your skin to excessive sunlight may have many implications, and sometimes what we refer to as “sun allergy” can manifest itself in many different forms. Sun poisoning is one of the most common types of sun allergy.

While some people experience it due to hereditary reasons, others develop symptoms due to exposure to a certain medication or another trigger. While most mild cases often disappear on their own, severe cases may require some form of medication for treatment. Therefore, prevention is the best way to avoid dealing with the hassle of pills and steroid creams. Some preventive measures you can take are as follows.

  • Stating the obvious, it’s good to avoid the sun from 10 am to 4 pm as the window happens to be among the peak hours.
  • Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid the sun altogether, so it’s better to plan your exposure instead of having it sudden and abrupt. Seasons like summer and spring may make you more prone to sun allergy, which means that you should gradually limit your outdoor visits or be fully equipped before stepping out.
  • If you must step out, make sure to give your body enough time to adapt to sunlight. Start by going out for a limited time and give your skin cells some time to get used to sunlight before gradually increasing your exposure. Going sudden and abrupt will only make it hard for your body to accept the intensity of sun exposure and consequently make it prone to sun allergy.
  • This goes without saying but stepping out in peak hours without any form of protection is bound to make your skin prone to allergy. Therefore, make sure not to step out without sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you plan to stay outdoors for long due to any reason, make sure to reapply every two hours or so.
  • Next in line after sunscreen is nonetheless protective clothing. Protecting yourself from extreme sun exposure effectively is possible if you add a layer of clothing over areas on which you have applied the sunscreen.

sunburnt skin with allergic reaction 300x200 - How to Prevent Sun Allergy

  • Figure out any triggers that may be causing your sun allergy because, at times, the sun is not the primary source of your discomfort. Look out for any medication that may have caused your skin to have a reaction previously. Speak to your healthcare professional to understand if something may actually make your skin more sensitive to the sun and either avoid it or get the dosage adjusted.

What are some risk factors to look out for?

It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to sunlight due to the following factors.

Substance Use

Many people are unaware of the fact that their allergy to the sun is not just caused by the skin’s direct exposure to it. Sometimes, the use of certain substances before you step out may also be responsible for elevating the problem.

These substances could be anything you frequently use on your skin, such as disinfectants or even fragrances. Some people are also allergic to chemicals in sunscreen but can only find out later after being exposed to the sun.

Skin Color

This may be a less known fact, but the way your skin reacts to the sun also has a lot to do with your skin color. Hence, people with lighter skin are more susceptible to sun allergies than those with darker skin.

Underlying Skin Conditions

Certain skin conditions make people more prone to a higher risk of having sun allergies. One such condition is dermatitis, which consists of skin irritation and some other symptoms that make your skin much more sensitive than when there are no underlying conditions involved.

Medications

Your skin is likely to get sunburns faster if you’ve been taking certain medications for a long time, such as pain relievers, sulfa-based drugs, and some types of antibiotics.

Genetic Inheritance

The least known risk factor that may be contributing to your sun allergies is genetic inheritance. Hence, if you’re unable to link your sun allergy to any external causes, it may be due to hereditary reasons such as a parent or sibling having the same condition.

What part of your body is the most susceptible to getting sun allergies?

There aren’t any designated areas of your body susceptible to sun allergy, and it is possible to experience it anywhere. However, you may see it more often on the areas that get the most amount of exposure, such as your arms, back of the neck, hands, and legs. While protective clothing should be enough to save you from the impact of the sun’s UV rays, sometimes even the most protected areas can get affected.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s also possible for your exposed parts such as the back of your hands, and your face to not have any form of sun allergy. This is because sun allergy is sometimes not a result of any apparent causes instead of what most people believe.

The Bottom Line

Sun allergy can manifest itself in many forms. Some people may experience mild irritation due to sun exposure, while others may get severe burns. The reason no two people can suffer from the consequences of sun allergy similarly is that there are more than just external factors at play.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and protective clothing are only some ways to protect yourself from the sun’s impact, but more often than not, many internal factors also come into play. Therefore, pay close attention to the substances you use daily or any medications that you may think are behind your sun allergy symptoms and consult a professional as soon as you deem fit.

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