The redness, blisters, pustules and unbearable itching often appear hours or days after the actual contact with the sun. They are triggered by UV radiation, which can penetrate deep into the skin layers even under cloudy skies. Sun allergies can be treated with antihistamines.
How to recognize them and what to look out for, you can find out here.
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Sun Allergy: Strictly Speaking It Is Not An Allergy
Itchy red spots on the skin, a rash on the neck, and even small pimples: a light allergy or sun allergy is not pleasant. As soon as the first rays of light come out from behind the thick cloud cover in spring, the skin becomes hot and red. However, sun allergy can also be a skin rash without itching.
Not every child has to scratch, sometimes the allergy really only makes itself felt by red spots on the skin. Sunscreens do not protect against the allergy, and also the pre-tanning in the solarium, which is often invoked by adults, does not bring much.
The sun allergy is sometimes also called Mallorca acne, but Mallorca acne is only one form of skin irritation, which is commonly summarized with many others under the term sun allergy.
Mallorca acne is triggered by UVA rays reacting with cosmetics on the skin. The allergic reaction is most apparent where the sun’s rays directly hit the skin: on the décolleté, shoulders, arms. The face, abdomen, back, and legs, on the other hand, are rarely affected.
The rash may consist of red spots, but may also be accompanied by nodules and papules, sometimes even wheals. The intensity of the itching varies from person to person. Not all sufferers experience itching.
Mallorca acne can be treated with an antihistamine. And you should avoid your usual cosmetics a few days before the first contact with the sun. Switch to products that are free of fats and emulsifiers. Because it is actually components of these substances that can trigger acne.
Polymorphous Light Dermatosis – What Is It?
Polymorphous light dermatosis or light allergy is distinguished from Mallorca acne but is usually nevertheless included under the collective term sun allergy. It appears only some hours after the sun contact, can even break out days later. A very strong itching is characteristic of the light allergy.
The body itches everywhere where the sun has hit the skin. At the same time, the skin rash can look very different: There are flat red spots on the skin as well as the pimply rash on the neck or severe redness with vesicles and wheals.
You cannot prevent polymorphous light dermatosis. Your only chance is to slowly accustom your body to the sun’s rays. Consistently use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor. Your sunscreen should absorb both UVA and UVB rays.
If the itching becomes too severe, an antihistamine may help in the short term. If you are always affected by the allergy on vacation, you should take your antihistamine a few days before you travel. And of course, during your entire trip – antihistamines do not last long after the last dose.
How Do Phototoxic Reactions Occur?
When you use cosmetics or medications, individual active ingredients or components from these products penetrate deep into the skin. These source substances can react with UVA radiation as well as with visible light.
The substances are not only found in cosmetics and medicines, but also in perfumes and food. They can even be contained in the active plant ingredients of natural cosmetics.
If these substances and light come into contact with cells, the skin cells can be damaged. This is because the immune system reacts to them. This has nothing to do with an allergy in the narrower sense.
The symptoms of such a phototoxic reaction do not appear immediately after irradiation, but develop in the hours or even days after sunbathing. Symptoms are usually burning and stinging.
There may be redness, and swelling may also occur. And you will notice increased sunburn as your skin becomes more sensitive. The natural protective function of the skin is disturbed.
The only effective means of prevention is to discuss with your doctor before sunbathing which reactions are to be expected due to your current medication.
You should not stop taking medication on your own. However, you can change cosmetic and care products on your own. However, you have to find out by trial and error which products are compatible.
That’s Why The Photoallergic Reaction Is A Real Allergy
Photoallergic reactions must be clearly distinguished from phototoxic reactions. This reaction involves the immune system and is much rarer than a phototoxic reaction.
This so-called light allergy affects only very sensitive people. The use of medicines favors a photoallergic reaction. Antibiotics and antidepressants in particular can promote this allergy.
However, eczema is only really triggered by UVA radiation and visible light. Contact dermatitis with triggers such as cosmetics, skin care products, and perfumes may accompany it.
You can also recognize the photoallergic reaction by symptoms such as red spots on the skin, a rash on the neck and a skin rash with or without itching on various other parts of the body.
Photoallergic reaction differs from the phototoxic reaction in its speed. This is because the skin irritations develop within a few hours after contact: First, nodules and vesicles appear on the redness, and later scales form on the skin. However, the changes in the skin will quickly disappear if you avoid the sun.
If the rash is really bad, it can be treated with corticosteroids. For more severe forms of this contact dermatitis, however, consistent avoidance of light is probably the only thing that really helps.
Always cover your skin with opaque, thin textiles when you go outside. Thin cotton clothing that is very tightly woven or made of fine jersey fabric is well suited and keeps your body cool even on warm days.
Are Heat Pimples In A Child Also A Light Allergy?
No, in this case it is a different type of reaction. If the body gets too warm, it forms sweat. The sweat is supposed to evaporate through the skin, thus removing heat from the body.
But if it gets so warm that the skin is constantly damp or wet, small heat pimples form. As a child many people have this, in adulthood this skin irritation is rather rare.
The pimples often form as a rash on the neck, show up on the elbows, on the wrinkles on the abdomen, and everywhere where skin lies on skin. This has nothing to do with a lack of hygiene but is simply normal.
The only way to prevent heat spots is not to make your child sweat. A very thin layer of clothing that rests on the skin can reduce heat pimples on hot and humid summer days.
For some children, it also helps to dust the skin in the elbows, back of the knees, creases of the neck, and similar areas with a thin layer of baby powder in the morning. The powder binds the sweat, which is then no longer directly on the skin.
If your child does not tolerate powder, cool water and a washcloth immediately after sweating can also provide relief.
What Is Sun Allergy Now?
Sun allergy is a collective term for many different skin reactions. The forms of sun allergy that are more common are described above. What all conditions have in common is the trigger: they are initiated by too much UV radiation, from too much sun exposure and heat.
The body’s natural protective mechanism fails in the so-called sun allergy, and red spots on the skin and an itchy rash on the neck or other parts of the body exposed to light are typical in all of the aforementioned clinical pictures.
If you or your child notice red spots on the skin or a rash on the neck, you should first cool the affected skin areas. If this does not help, contact your doctor.
By the way, the exact causes of sun allergy, as well as light allergy and similar reactions, have not yet been conclusively clarified. Today, it is suspected that they are actually allergens that have not been known so far. Perhaps the skin irritations are also triggered by free radicals. Free radicals are aggressive oxygen compounds.
The diagnosis “sun allergy” is usually made through a patient interview. More rarely, light tests are used. A sun allergy cannot be cured. However, those affected can rely on the fact that the symptoms will diminish over the course of the year, before stronger sunlight next spring or perhaps already during a family vacation in the summer will cause the skin to glow again.
However, sun allergy has nothing to do with inadequate nutrition, poor hygiene or improper care.
Are There Medications For The Rash On The Neck And Red Spots On The Skin?
Acute sun allergy is less about the unsightly appearance. First of all, the cause of red spots on the skin, rash on the neck and itching must be found.
Red spots on the skin are not worth treating as long as they do not develop other inconveniences. Inconveniences would include changing moles or white spots developing on the skin.
However, anything beyond purely visual problems such as rashes on the neck or arms can be treated. What this treatment looks like will be decided by the doctor in each individual case.
In the past, sun allergy was often treated with high doses of calcium – this is now only done in exceptional cases. A thorough medical history by a physician is necessary in any case before dietary supplements or medications are used.