By Joshua Colton Treadwell
It’s a beautiful morning; you wake up and get ready for a wonderful day outside. With your first step in the sun your skin erupts into hives after only a few seconds. Sound like an urban legend? Think again. According to the Mayo Clinic, the term “Sun Allergy” is used to describe several conditions. Polymorphic Light Eruption is the most common condition referred to as a Sun Allergy. This condition results in an itchy red rash, which can result after only a few seconds of exposure. For people with this allergy the worst times of the year are spring and early summer. Just like normal allergies, these symptoms recur each year at peak times. Hives are less common than other symptoms, like raised bumps and rough patches.
So what does treatment for this allergy look like? There are topical creams that can be used to treat symptoms. Theses creams contain corticosteroids and are effective for mild symptoms. If your symptoms are severe a doctor can prescribe you corticosteroids in a pill form. Another option for treatment involves slowly building up a tolerance to direct sunlight using an ultraviolet light on specific parts of your body. So basically, you slowly burn yourself until it doesn’t happen anymore. Sounds great right?
By now you may be thinking you might have a sun allergy. If you are really concerned you can get tested for a sun allergy. One test involves an ultraviolet light being adjusted to different wavelengths. You can also be tested using photopatch testing, which involves priming patches of the skin with substances that may increase sensitivity, and then UV testing is used on the primed skin. If your doctor still wants to run tests, you may need to send in a skin sample and blood sample to a lab. This would only be necessary if your doctor suspects another condition is responsible for your symptoms. So, enjoy the sun (provided you don’t have an allergic reaction)!