What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to the Sun?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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An allergic reaction to the sun can take on several forms, depending upon the type of sun allergy present. Chronic actinic dermatitis causes patches of inflamed, dry, itchy skin and mimics another skin condition known as contact dermatitis. Polymorphic light eruption is a type of allergic reaction to sunlight which causes small itchy bumps to develop on exposed areas of skin. Solar urticaria can cause blisters and hives to form, even on areas of skin covered by clothing. Another type of allergic reaction is called actinic prurigo and fluid-filled bumps to develop, mostly affecting children and young adults.

A type of allergic reaction to the sun known as chronic actinic dermatitis normally presents in a similar fashion as contact dermatitis, a skin condition which develops as a result of coming into direct contact with an allergen. Symptoms may include various patches of inflamed and thickened skin which may be dry and itchy. If large areas of skin are affected, there may be smaller areas of skin within the larger area which appear to be unaffected.

Polymorphic light eruption, also known as PMLE, is the name given to a specific type of allergic reaction to the sun. Within minutes to hours of sun exposure, the skin may begin to itch and form small white or yellow bumps, usually on top of a patch of reddened skin. This condition is frequently referred to as sun poisoning and is the most common type of sun allergy.


Solar urticaria, another type of allergic reaction to the sun, cause symptoms to develop within a matter of minutes following sun exposure. Symptoms typically include itchy skin, the development of hives, and painful blisters. Unlike other sun allergy types, solar urticaria can affect exposed areas of skin as well as those which are covered by clothing. The symptoms associated with this type of sun allergy usually go away within an hour of ending exposure to the sun.

Actinic prurigo is a type of sun allergy which is most commonly found among children and young adults. In this condition, the affected areas of skin become red, raised, and itchy. Blisters may form on any area of the body, including areas which have not been in direct contact with the sun. The blisters associated with this type of allergic reaction to the sun may break open, and in severe cases, permanent scars may develop.


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Post 3

I have solar urticaria which has to be the worst type of skin condition ever. I don't just get a rash, I get sore, itchy blisters that drive me mad. My doctor thinks that it has to do with me being overweight and wants me to lose weight. Meanwhile, I'm avoiding the sun like the plague because even a little bit of exposure triggers a reaction. And I always carry allergy medications and creams with me.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- It sounds like actinic dermatitis but you should see your doctor when you have a breakout for a diagnosis.

I have this type of allergic reaction to the sun and I know how awful it can be. Ever since I started getting UV light therapy though, my condition has been improving. I highly recommend this therapy. They expose the skin to small amounts of UV light to increase the skin's tolerance to sunlight. The exposure is not high enough to cause an allergic reaction and the amount is increased slowly over time to help the body adjust. I think this is the best and permanent treatment for this condition.

Post 1

I think I have an allergy to sun, although I'm not sure what type of allergy it is. When I'm exposed to sunlight, I get red, painful and itchy bumps on my skin. It takes a long time for it to go away and completely ruins vacations for me. I have to wear long clothes and large hats during the summer.

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