Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Skin Care and Diseases

Will I always have sun poison?

03/20/2006

Question:

About 3 years ago at the start of spring I noticed I would break out in a red itchy rash on my arms and legs after being in the sun. I love being outside and I have always been easily to tan. Now when I go to the beach the breakouts are extremly bad, even with sunscreen on. I have used benadryl, and hydrocortison cream. The med`s help a little. Is there anything else I can do? Every spring I wonder if it`s better, but it hasn`t gone away yet? Will I always have this codition? I have 3 small children and we love to be outside, I hate knowing that I will have to deal with this forever.

Answer:

It sounds like you may have Solar Urticaria. It is a rare reaction to sun exposure. This is a true sun allergy. It develops rapidly--moments after exposure, the skin begins to itch, and then becomes red. Wheals or vesicles appear. The actual mechanism that causes this reaction is unknown, however, antihistamines are effective in treating the reactions of some patients. In this case sunscreen may not be enough. Covering the skin from exposure to sunlight may help. Wearing tightly woven dark colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants to protect your body and a wide brimmed hat to protect your face and neck may help. There are also clothes that are specifically designed to prevent the UV rays from penetrating them. They may help as well. Since this came on suddenly there is a chance that it may disappear just as suddenly. We aren't sure exactly why some people develop Solar Urticaria. The only real solution unfortunately is to stay out of the sun.

For more information:

Go to the Skin Care and Diseases health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University