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A sun allergy rash refers to a reddish rash on skin that occurs after being exposed to sunlight. It is an allergic reaction to the sunrays and generally accompanied by itchiness.

There are different types of sun allergieswhich causedifferent allergic reactions.Polymorphic light eruption is a very common type of sun allergy. It is also called as ‘sun poisoning.’ Mild cases can be resolved easily without medical help,but severe cases require treatment. Steroid creams or pills are advised by skin specialists to heal the rashes. Those with severe allergic reactions due to excess exposure to sun should be careful to avoid contact with sunlight and use sun-protective clothes.

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Symptoms of sun allergy rash

Symptoms can develop within minutes of exposure to sunlight, or it can take several hours after initial contact with sun rays.Some of the symptoms of sun allergy rash are as follows:

  • Eczema
  • Redness of skin
  • Itchiness or pain
  • Small bumps, raised patches
  • Bleeding, scaling
  • Blisters
  • Headache
  • Nauseated feeling

When unusual reactions occur after being exposed to sunlight then it is better to consult a doctor. If symptoms are severe and regular then a dermatologist should be consulted immediately.

Types of Sun Allergy Rash

  • Polymorphous light eruption: The symptoms of polymorphous light eruption are itchiness, blisters, bleeding, and burning sensations. These rashes erupt in different parts of the body like exposed area of upper chest, arms, neck and lower legs. They usually fade away after some days but for few people it could reoccur. It the rash is mild then spaying the affected area with cold water, or application of cold compresses can give relief. For severe cases medications like anti-rash skin cream or oral antihistamine can be taken. In extreme cases, medical experts go for photo therapy. They may also opt for a combination of antimalarial drugs, or beta-carotene tablet, or psoralen, and ultraviolet light to treat this type of sun allergy rash.
  • Actinic Prurigo: It is like polymorphous light eruption. The symptoms are mostly same but it occurs more on the face in comparison to other parts of the body. In tropical climate actinic prurigo persists throughout the year. This type of sun allergy rash can be treated through corticosteroids, antimalarial drugs and thalidomide,beta-carotene and ultraviolet rays as advised by the skin specialist.
  • Photoallergic eruption:When some chemicals in certain substances applied on the skin like sunscreen, cosmetics, fragrance, etc. reacts with the skin, then it results in development of small red rashes or blisters filled with fluid. The best treatment is to find the particular product causing allergy rash and stop using it.


The causes of sun allergy rash can vary from person to person. Sometimes a certain type of cream, medicines, or chemicals make the skin very sensitive to the sun; whereas for some it does not. It could be due to hereditary reasons as well. Some of the causes of sun allergy rash are:

  • Race: Any person could suffer from sun allergy rash. However, there are some sun allergic reactions that are common among a particular race. For e.g. severe allergic reactions due to exposure to sunlight such as polymorphic light eruption is very common in Caucasians.
  • Intake of some medicines: Medicines such as tetracycline, sulfa-based drugs, antibiotics, and pain relievers like ketoprofen could cause sunburn very quickly.
  • Skin condition: A person suffering from atopic dermatitis or some other kind of dermatitis may increase the chance of sun allergy rash.
  • Being exposed to some substance: Some substances like fragrances, chemicals in sunscreen, or disinfectants can cause skin rash. Later, when the rash comes in contact with sunlight, it worsens the condition causing sun allergy rash.
  • Family history: If family members suffer from sun allergy rash then there is a possibility that the person may also suffer from similar allergic reactions.

Treatment of Sun Allergy Rash

Treatments vary depending upon the kind of sun allergy rash. For mild cases it can be treated at home, but medical help is advised for severe cases. Some treatments include:

  • Medicines:Over the counter creams which contain corticosteroids are advised. For very severe allergic skin reactions the skin specialist could prescribe a course of corticosteroid pills like prednisone.
  • Therapy:If a person is suffering from severe sun allergy rash then the dermatologist may advise phototherapy. It involves the use of a unique lamp which is used to shine ultraviolet light on the affected parts of the body that have been exposed to sun. It is done for some times in a week over a span of many weeks. This makes the skin used to sunlight.

Patients can follow the below listed precautionary guidelines to get relief from sun allergy rash symptoms:

  • Application of skin moisturizers: Use skin moisturizers; it helps to get relief from itchiness caused by dry and scaly skin.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight: As far as possible exposure to sunlight should be avoided. This helps to improve the symptoms very fast.
  • Use skin remedies that are soothing: Home remedies such as aloe vera, calamine lotion helps to control the symptoms.

Sun Allergy Rash Pictures

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