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Skin Care and Diseases

Sun poison

03/22/2006

Question:

My son has a rash after being in the sun. However, it is not raised or itching or blistered. It is very red and feels feverish. The rash has even appeared in places where he wasn`t burned. What is this?

Answer:

I don't know what your son's history with sun exposure is but it could be something called Polymorphous Light Eruption. It occurs in susceptible individuals when they are exposed to sunlight that is more intense than usual, for example as in the first time you go out in the sun during the summer or when you expose a body part to sunlight that has no prior sunlight exposure. It may also occur if you travel to a higher latitude or lower latitude such as to a country closer to the equator where the sunlight has more strength. Normally the resulting skin-rash reaction heals within 7-10 days with no treatment as long as additional sun exposure is avoided. In the future using sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays is mandatory. (Sunlight is made up of UVA and UVB rays). Make sure the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA since these protective agents are more effective in preventing these breakouts. However, if it doesn't disappear within that time you should to take your son to your doctor to make sure it isn't something else.

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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