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July 10, 2019

Sun allergies are a side effect of summer for some folks

Here's what you should know about the baffling allergy

Illness Allergies
sun allergies Alex Perez/Unsplash

This allergy can make enjoying summer particularly difficult.

Summer isn’t everyone’s favorite season. The heat and corresponding sunshine can be too much for some people. In fact, some are even allergic to it.

Sun allergies are a blanket term to describe an array of conditions in which an itchy rash surfaces on one’s skin after being exposed to sunlight, according to Mayo Clinic. The most common rash is polymorphic light eruption, also known as sun poisoning.

Some people experience sun allergies because it runs in their family, while in others, it may be triggered by a medication or skin exposure to certain plants, Mayo Clinic adds.

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According to Harvard Health, a sun allergy is an immune system response to sunlight. The reaction most frequently appears at the "V" of the neck, back of the hands, and outside portions of the arms and the lower legs.

Symptoms of the allergy, per Mayo Clinic, include: redness, itching, tiny bumps that may become raised patches, scaling, crusting, bleeding and blisters or hives.

Well and Good spoke with board-certified medical doctor Janette Nesheiwat, MD, on the subject of sun allergies:

For those with polymorphic light eruption, Dr. Neishwat suggests that managing symptoms ahead of the rash is the best course of action. That starts with investing in the right protective gear. “Sunblock and protection from the sun with clothing and hats can be more than helpful in keeping this condition under control,” Dr. Nesheiwat suggests.

Plus, if you believe you may have a sun allergy, avoiding the sun during its peak hours — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is best, experts agree.

Harvard Health recommends seeing your doctor if the following occur when dealing with an allergic reaction to the sun: the rash does not respond to over-the-counter treatments; the rash involves large areas of your body, even those covered by clothing; a persistent rash surfaces on sun-exposed areas of your face (especially if you are a woman or an American Indian); and abnormal bleeding under the skin occurs in sun exposed areas.

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