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Skin Care and Diseases

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity solutions?

03/20/2006

Question:

Extreme sensitivy to the sun has gotten debilitating, would you have suggestions? The manager of a local health food store mentioned it could be electromagnetic hypersensitivity. This has impaired driving, walking with all manner of protection on my body. The age is over 50 and in good health. Thank you for any suggestions.

Answer:

The hypersensitivity that you describe is due to ultraviolet light.  Ultraviolet light A,  B and C, as well as visible light may produce skin eruptions.  There are hypersensitivities to light that occur in such disease entitities as some of the forms of porphyria, polymorphous light eruption, some forms of lupus erythematosus, and even some genetic abnormalities.  However, the most common cause for light sensitivity are medications.  There are a number of diuretics and antibiotics, and others that may produce exquisite sensitivity to light.  You would do well to consult a board certified dermatologist for a complete evaluation of your problem and photo patch testing to determine the wavelengths to which you are sensitive.  Then your dermatologist can prescribe appropriate sun protective materials.

In the interim, you should begin to wear sunscreen with an SPF value of at least 30, and should wear it every day, 365 days a year to prevent major damage to the entire exposed skin.  Some of the sunscreens can be worn all day, although most have to be replaced several times during the day, and they are not perfect sunscreens.  There are also topical antioxidants that are used as sun protectors, and they may need to be investigated for your care.

Please find a board certified dermatologist in your neighborhood for careful consultation.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati