The Sun allergy respectively Photo allergy is a colloquial collective term for all skin problems that arise or are favored by sunlight. In the narrower sense, sun allergies can be described as photodermatoses, as they affect the skin, which reacts to the action of sunlight. In a broader sense, various metabolic diseases or autoimmune diseases are also popularly referred to as sun allergies. Symptoms of various types, from itching to redness to serious changes in the skin, occur in connection with sunlight.
Red skin and itching after sunbathing? That could be a sun allergy.
A Sun allergy (photo allergy) describes the appearance of skin complaints due to exposure to light as an umbrella term. They appear in a period of a few hours to a few days and manifest themselves in the form of redness, wheals, nodules, blistering and scarring, pustules and thickening.
In addition, those affected by the sun allergy experience extreme itching and severe burning. However, these symptoms can be very different, as sun allergy is not a disease as such, but has various causes. An accurate diagnosis must be made in order to allow treatment for sun allergy.
In the Sun allergy it is rarely an allergic reaction to sunlight per se. Rather, causes such as allergies to other substances, autoimmune diseases or metabolic disorders play a role. The most common are polymorphic light dermatosis (PLD) (overloading of the skin that is not used to light), "Mallorca acne" (similar to PLD, but with a slightly different appearance) and photoallergic reactions.
In the photoallergic reaction, for example, a sun allergy turns out to be meadow grass dermatitis, a reaction of the skin to certain meadow grasses in combination with exposure to light. Here light is perceived as the cause, but is actually only one component of the overall reaction.
A sun allergy can also occur as an overreaction of the skin to unusual exposure to UV-A or UV-B radiation. Other explanatory models attribute the development of a sun allergy to free radicals. The cause of the sun allergy must therefore always be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The sun allergy is rarely a real allergy. Much more often, the respective diseases can be traced back to the skin's intolerance to sunlight or certain rays that it contains. As already mentioned, the skin reacts particularly frequently to various forms of UV radiation. Polymorphic light dermatosis, also known as Mallorca acne, is a classic type of sun allergy - changes in the skin occur in various parts of the skin due to the action of UV-A and UV-B rays.
In the case of the autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus, which is also known as sun allergy, the changes in the skin often become more pronounced when it has been exposed to sunlight. Sunlight also causes other symptoms in those affected, such as headache or fever. The metabolic disease porphyria is also not an allergenic reaction; people only react to sunlight with increased sensitivity and can feel pain without being visibly harmed by sunlight.
A sun allergy - which is actually not a classic allergy - is accompanied by itching and other skin changes, such as blistering and pustules. Symptoms can also occur hours or days after being in the sun.
The symptoms appear differently depending on the person, but always the same in repeated cases. Fair-skinned people are more often affected than dark skin types. The skin begins to itch and burn. Another sign is reddened skin in the form of reddish spots. The formation of nodules, vesicles or even real blisters is also a symptom and, in the worst case, the skin swells.
The sun allergy often occurs when the skin has not been exposed to the sun for a long time. This means that this disease occurs especially in spring or summer. But it is also possible on vacation abroad in different climatic conditions than at home in summer and winter.
Body parts that were covered in winter or in the colder season are now exposed to the sun. This mainly affects the neck, décolleté, arms, backs of the hands and legs. Since the face is neither covered in cold nor in heat, the sun allergy occurs less here.
If there is excessive exposure to the sun despite a sun allergy, symptoms and complications can occur. In addition to the typical skin irritations - itching, redness, blistering - burns and severe inflammations can also occur. At the same time, allergic symptoms such as watery eyes occasionally occur.
In severe cases, visual disturbances such as visual field loss and blurred vision can occur. Further complications arise if these complaints are not treated. The skin changes can develop into serious infections or chronic pain can set in. After a long stay in the sun, scars or pigment disorders occasionally develop.
Typical treatment methods such as photochemotherapy also involve risks. Corneal and conjunctivitis occurs again and again in connection with light therapy. Liver spots and pigment disorders also develop. The light exposure causes the skin to age prematurely and wrinkles and other cosmetic blemishes form.
Headache, dry mouth, and drowsiness may occur after taking antihistamines. In addition, regular use of the preparation can lead to serious kidney and liver damage. Serious complications occur in the event of an overdose or interactions with other drugs or existing diseases.
Changes in the appearance of the skin must always be presented to a doctor. If there is pain on the skin, the formation of spots or an unpleasant itchiness, it is advisable to clarify the cause. If scratching the affected skin develops open wounds or shows signs of inflammation, a doctor will be needed. There is a risk of blood poisoning if wounds are not treated sterile. This is potentially fatal and should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible.
Get a doctor to examine any nodules on the skin, blisters or discomfort when touching it. Particular concern is when the symptoms increase continuously or multiply under the action of sunlight. A doctor should be consulted in good time, since a sun allergy often leads to a rapid increase in symptoms and a marked decrease in well-being. With adequate medical care, the symptoms are alleviated.
Swelling, reddening of the skin and impaired movement or a resting position are indications of a health problem that should be discussed with a doctor.The sun allergy usually occurs on the back of the hand or the legs of the person affected. If items of clothing cannot be worn symptom-free or if there is a decline in physical performance, help should be sought.
Is there a Sun allergy in acute cases, the extreme irritation to the skin must first be reduced. Cortisone supplements such as ointments and creams are used for this purpose. In extreme cases, internal use via tablets is also possible. Usually this cortisone treatment is kept as short as possible, as cortisone can cause significant side effects.
There is no blanket treatment for the symptoms of sun allergy. Treatments must be different depending on the underlying disease. Sometimes the changes in the skin are treated directly, in other cases this would be of little use, which is why the individual disease must be combated.
In polymorphic light dermatosis, allergic relapses can play a role, which are combated with antihistamines. However, these only help with real sun allergies, with all other forms they have no effect. In turn, various medications may be prescribed to treat the changes in the skin. To combat blackheads caused by sunlight, cream containing cortisone is used, for example.
In the case of autoimmune diseases or metabolic disorders, changes in the skin are treated individually because they are not blackheads but reactions. What is important, however, is the accompanying treatment of the underlying disease. In the case of autoimmune diseases, an attempt is generally made to prevent the immune system from reacting defensively to the respective influence, which should also alleviate the symptoms. The same treatment principle also applies to metabolic diseases that are considered to be sun allergies.
Nevertheless, long-term treatment with lighter preparations cannot always be avoided in patients with frequent skin problems. If there is irritation, the skin must be protected from further irritation. Intensive sun protection through products with UV filters and protection of the skin through clothing that is as covering as possible are important means of protecting the skin.
In the case of very severe skin irritation, the administration of antibiotics may be necessary, as germs could penetrate through open skin injuries (e.g. scratched pustules) and penetrate the irritated immune system. In addition to relieving the skin from irritation and its regeneration, the causes of sun allergies must be clarified and treated.
The emergence of diseases that are called Sun allergy can hardly be actively prevented. Autoimmune diseases in particular develop independently of factors that the patient can influence himself. The symptoms of the respective diseases, on the other hand, can be prevented much better. It is usually a good idea to stay away from sunlight if possible if it is harmful to the skin.
Some extreme manifestations even require this to largely avoid worse symptoms of the disease. In less severe cases, you can go into sunlight, but you should ensure effective protection against UV radiation. An effective sunscreen is the absolute basic requirement for staying in direct sunlight.
Since the acute treatment of the Sun allergy can be lengthy and the symptoms are distressing to the patient, so most of their treatment is prevention. Above all, this means protecting the skin from intensive or prolonged radiation. Constant use of UV protection and the best possible protection through clothing are advisable, because constant avoidance of the sun is neither possible nor really effective in the long term, as the skin becomes more and more sensitive.
The ingestion of carotene has a positive effect on the self-protection of the skin, but must be looked after by a doctor, especially in the case of smokers. In addition to skin protection, the skin should slowly get used to the light (desensitization). In most cases this is done through therapeutic radiation of the skin under medical supervision.
As a rule, the measures and options for direct follow-up care in the event of a sun allergy are significantly limited, although in many cases they are not even available to the person affected. Therefore, with this disease, the person affected should contact a doctor at an early stage and possibly initiate treatment, as this cannot lead to an independent healing.
In general, those affected by the sun allergy should definitely avoid the direct sun and protect themselves particularly well against the sun. Sun creams and various ointments should be applied to protect the skin from the sun. Direct exposure to the sun should also be avoided.
Sun allergy sufferers are advised to have regular checkups and examinations carried out by a doctor in order to detect and treat possible skin cancer and other skin complaints at a very early stage. It may also be necessary to take various medications with a sun allergy. It is always important to ensure that it is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct. The sun allergy itself does not usually reduce the life expectancy of the person affected.
People with a sun allergy should protect themselves adequately from the effects of UV light. Direct sunlight on the skin or body of the person concerned should be completely avoided in everyday life. It is advisable to wear items of clothing that cover the skin and head well. Loose and long clothing that fully covers the limbs is recommended. If possible, an umbrella or a slightly larger headgear should be used so that the face is also adequately protected.
In addition, the skin must be provided with a care product. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor or a prescribed preparation from a doctor is recommended. The latter is often tailored to the needs of the person concerned and therefore made individually.
At the first allergic reactions of the organism one should react immediately. Finding places in the shade is essential. It is important that the person concerned develops various strategies in order to be able to protect himself from sudden and unexpected sun exposure in everyday life. When leaving the house, as a precautionary measure, items of clothing or objects should be taken with you, which can also be useful if you are protected from sunlight. In everyday life, places with little shade such as beach visits should be reduced to a minimum or only take place after sunset.