Treatment for photodermatitis involves addressing skin irritation and limiting exposure to light to prevent further outbreaks of this skin condition. Patients with photodermatitis have unusually sensitive skin that overreacts to ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight, causing rashes, blisters, and weeping sores. Soothing skin creams can address a breakout, medications may suppress the severity of the reaction, and sun protection can prevent future episodes. It is advisable to consult a dermatologist for advice and assistance with treatment.
Some patients may have a genetic predisposition to this condition or could be more at risk because of an underlying disease, particularly in the case of autoimmune diseases. Medications and certain foods can also cause the condition. In susceptible individuals, the immune system reacts strongly to sunlight because of the presence of an allergen or irritant, and patches of blistering, shiny, scaly skin may appear. This is not a sunburn, but an allergic reaction.
For open sores, cool, moist dressings can be helpful. Some patients find scent-free moisturizers beneficial for easing pain and itching, and others may bathe in cool water with baking soda to feel more comfortable. Steroid medications and other drugs are available to suppress the immune system and make the skin reaction more moderate. A doctor will prescribe these medications if they are appropriate. Some may have side effects that will lead a doctor to recommend them for the short term only, to avoid creating more problems than they solve.
Patients with a known susceptibility to sunlight can wear sunscreen and protective clothes to limit sun exposure. It is important to wear protection at all times, not just in the bright summer sun, as winter sunlight also contains ultraviolet radiation. When doctors prescribe medications known to cause photosensitivity, they may also advise their patients to consider wearing sunhats, long sleeves, and other protective gear while they are outside. This can reduce the risks of developing photodermatitis, and will keep the patient more comfortable.
This condition is not contagious, although it can look unpleasant. Patients with weeping sores need to be careful to keep them clean to reduce the risk of developing infections. Cool to warm water and mild, unscented soaps are best for cleaning. Patting dry with a towel rather than rubbing is advisable, to prevent further breakage of the skin. Scented products should be avoided with photodermatitis, as the scents can exacerbate the reaction and may make the patient's skin even worse.