Sun Poisoning Rash

Sun rash is a red, itchy rash that occurs due to the exposure to ultraviolet light.

The people who are sensitive to sunlight develop sun rash that appears as red, tiny bumps or slightly raised patches of skin. Once the first incident happens, the episodes of Polymorphous light eruption or sun rash can recur every early summer.

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Even though sun rash resolves on  its own, severe cases may need medication. Proper skin protection or light therapy may prevent recurring cases of sun rash.

Sun poisoning rash symptoms

The eruption of sun rash occurs during early summer due to exposure to sunlight,  on areas of the body which are normally covered during winter and then exposed during the summer months. Such body regions are usually the upper chest, the arms and the front area of the neck.

Some of the signs and symptoms of sun rash may include the following:

  • Dense clusters of tiny bumps
  • Blistering and swelling  which is less common
  • Redness
  • Elevated rough patches
  • Itching and/or burning

On rare occasions some individuals may experience the symptoms of fever, headache, chills and nausea. Such symptoms may not be the result of sun rash or polymorphous light eruption alone, but may be due to an associated case of sunburn

Sun allergy rash causes

There are several causes that result in the development of sun rash. Some of the major reasons are discussed below:

  • Polymorphous light eruption: It is the most common cause for Sun rash, which affects people who are sensitive to sunlight, i.e. people who are photosensitive. In the early summer periods, it can occur due to intense exposure to sun and due to the fact that sunlight improves over the summer months.
  • Exposure to certain plants or chemicals: Along with the exposure to sun light, some chemicals present in materials like soaps, perfumes  or sunscreen or any form of contact with certain plants like wild parsnip, celery, lemons, a burning bush or limes can cause Sun rash.
  • Medications or drug induced photosensitivity: The drugs such as thiazides that treat blood pressure; nonsteroidal  anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and antibiotics like tetracyclines can cause Sun rash.
  • Solar hives or urticaria: Even though it is uncommon, this type of sun rash occurs after exposure to sun for 5 to 10 minutes, as part of an allergic reaction.

The exact cause of sun rash or polymorphous light eruption is not known. However it can occur in individuals who are sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from sun, or from lamps or tanning beds. The increased sensitivity induces the immune system to react adversely and thereby produce inflammation and rash.

UV radiation: The range of human eye is too short to see the UV radiation which are of two types, namely, ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. A photosensitive person may react to both type of radiation. The UVB does not penetrate the glasses, but UVA does and so the sunlight through the window can affect the photosensitive person.

Photosensitivity: Repeated exposures to sunlight lessens the sensitivity. As such some of the features of sun rash that can be predicted are listed below:

  • After a long period of absence from sunlight, the first or second exposure to sunlight can cause sun rash. This indicates that sun rash can occur while holidaying in sunnier locations after the winter months, during early spring or during early summer.
  • Individuals affected by a single episode of sun rash, may be at greater risk for developing instances of sun rash either on an annual basis or every spring and summer
  • As the summer months progress, the occurrences of sun rash reduce.
  • Gradually when people become less sensitive, they do not experience the reoccurrence of sun r ash

Several factors influence the increased risk of sun rash:

  • Women are more affected by this disorder.
  • People with white skin and those living in northern parts are at greater vulnerability to get affected.
  • The initial cases of sun rash generally tend to occur during teens or the early twenties
  • A family history of sun rash points towards a genetic vulnerability among certain individuals

Sun poisoning rash treatment

Normally treatment is not required for sun rash, as it tends to resolve on its own. Severe cases of sun rash may be treated with the aid of following medications and therapies:

  • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, Ibuprofen  and naproxen which are  available over the counter can also be used to alleviate the pain that may accompany sun rash.
  • The doctor may recommend anti-itch cream with at least 1% hydrocortisone to treat mild cases of sun rash. For severe itch, creams with more percentage of hydrocortisone may be recommended.
  • To decrease the sensitivity to light in summer and to prevent reoccurrences of sun rash, the doctor may advice light therapy or phototherapy that involves the exposure of skin to small doses of UVA and UVB. The doctor may also advise another form of light therapy called PUVA, which is a therapy of administering UVA  along with medicine to prepare the skin to face the light. PUVA may result in side-effects such as headache, nausea and itching. During this period you need to wear UVA absorbing sunglasses to protect the eyes.

Self care protection measures from sun rash symptoms include:

  • To avoid infection and quicker healing it is best advised to leave the blisters intact or if needed one may cover them with gauze.
  • Using  cold compresses that involve the application of a towel soaked in cool water over the affected skin or taking a cool bath.

Sun rash pictures


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