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Skin Care and Diseases

Sun poison prevention, cure for

07/17/2006

Question:

My daughter is fair skinned with red hair. She doesn`t tan easily and uses sunscreen with UVA and UVB. She is very involved in outdoor activities in TX and gets sun poison easily for the first part of the summer. Are there any available products on the market to help reduce the effects of the sun poisoning (itching and discomfort) in a short amount of time and will antihistimines help prevent her from breaking out? The worst part of the sun poison is breaking out more even when she`s in the shade because of the heat.

Answer:

Sun poisoning is quite a common condition. Typically, the eruption is worse in spring or early summer, and tends to improve and disappear as the summer goes on. She's doing the right thing by putting on broad spectrum sunscreens. Hats, appropriate clothing, could possibly lessen the degree of eruption. Over-the-counter antihistamines can be taken to relieve symptoms of itching. There is no proof that taking them prior to sun exposure would prevent the eruption.

Some patients find that artificial tanners containing dihydroxyacetone can provide an added layer of protection on the skin, in addition to sunscreens. For patients with severe eruption, dermatologists may prescribe a course of phototherapy (done about twice to thrice a week in dermatology clinics) in late winter to early spring, to sort of prepare the skin for the sunnier months. Efficacy of prophylactic phototherapy varies from patient to patient.

You should consult your dermatologist about this first.

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Response by:

Elma D Baron, MD Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University