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Sun allergy prevention and treatment

Summer is coming! Enjoy the sun during your days off! But that's not possible for everyone. For example, about 10 per cent of the Dutch suffer from PMLE (Polymorphous light eruption), the most common form of sun allergy. With sun allergy you get a red, painful and/or itchy rash if you have been exposed to the sun (too long).

It's so bizarre to me that one tenth of the Dutch suffer from it, but still there's a lack of awareness and proper information about how to prevent and treat sun allergy in the best way possible. The best thing is of course to prevent sun allergy. Nobody is waiting for those painful and itchy bumps. There is a simple solution, which is UV clothing. This type of clothing merely blocks harmful UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Take a look at UV-Fashions: UV clothing for babies, children, women and men.

In this article I will explain more about UV clothing and answer other questions about sun allergy:

  • What is sun allergy?
  • How to prevent sun allergy?
  • How do you develop sun allergy?
  • How to treat sun allergy?

What is sun allergy?

Sun allergy is a rash that occurs when exposed to the sun. After exposure to UV rays, red, painful and/or itchy patches appear on your skin and often include blisters. Usually symptoms occur about 6-8 hours after being exposed to the sun, but they can also occur sooner or later. Sun allergy is most common on the back of the hand, elbous and the instep of the foot, but can also occur on other body parts. Sun allergy on the legs and chest for example, is also quite common. After a couple of days the red spots often disappear on their own and you won't see anything anymore.

Sun allergy PMLE on the chest

How to prevent sun allergy?

1. Wear UV protective clothing and apply a good sunscreen on the unprotected body parts

Do you suffer from sun allergy?

Then it is best to stay out of the bright sun as much as possible, especially between 12.00 and 15.00 o 'clock.

Still going into the sun?

Then wear UV protective clothing and apply sunscreen with UVA and UVB filters and without extra substances such as perfume and alcohol, on uncovered body parts.

The combination of UV clothing and sunscreen offers you maximum protection against the sun and is the way to prevent sun allergy. UV beachwear breathes and keeps the skin cool. UV swimwear is fully resistant to water. So you can still enjoy the beach and the water, even with a sun allergy!


There are also ways to make your skin more resilient to the sun's rays. Of course, this is less effective than wearing UV clothing and will never be able to prevent sun allergy for 100 per cent.

2. Supplements and pills

Just as there are substances that make your skin more sensitive to the sun, there are also substances that make your skin less sensitive to the sun. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish) and Omega-6 fatty-acids (from vegetable oils, eggs, meat and fish) reduce the inflammatory reactions in the skin. To get these fatty acids immediately, you can take Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements in combination with antioxidants. Beta-carotene pills (pro-vitamin A) can also help. Carotene is a substance that promotes the conversion of melanin into pigment and pigment works as a filter that protects your skin from the sun. Carotene is also found in carrots, mangoes, mandarins, leafy vegetables and cabbages. There are also a number of homeopathic remedies that are popular such as Urtizon Complex granules. These grains can relieve the symptoms of a sun allergy.

3. Light therapy

Furthermore, you can let your skin get used to the sun more and more. So you can make your own schedule and expose your skin to the sun a few minutes longer every day. This is a very natural treatment to prevent sun allergy at a later time. You can also use light therapy and expose yourself to an artificial light source. You can go to the hospital or another institution., but nowadays you can also buy special light therapy lamps for about 100-250 euros. You can also go to a tanning salon and ask for light therapy. In this way, you can also prevent sun allergy.

 Light therapy

How does sun allergy develop?

Modern medicine still doesn't know exactly how sun allergy develops, but at least UV rays are seen as the main culprit. UV rays cause changes in the skin, which normally result in skin discolouration and ageing. However, the body sometimes does not recognize these changes. Our immune system then thinks that a virus or bacteria enters our body and attacks the skin. It is thought that this autoimmune reaction eventually causes the rash. If your body reacts in such a way to sunlight, this is called photosensitivity. Certain skin care products (lotions, perfumes) and certain medicines and antibiotics make the skin extra sensitive to light.

 Sun rays

How to treat sun allergy?

Prevention is of course better than a treatment, but sometimes you just want to get rid of those painful, itchy red spots as quickly as possible. What to do against these annoying sun allergy bumps? Below is a short overview of medications you can get to treat the symptoms caused by sun allergy:

  • Antihistamine pills against hives
  • Hydrcortisone ointment to reduce itching
  • Zinc oxide for the skin
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Menthol talcum powder

Hydracortison ointment can be obtained at the pharmacy with 1% of the effective substance. If you need a stronger ointment, you should get a prescription from your doctor.


Red spots caused by sun allergy


Tips and tricks from Grandma

In addition to the discussed ways to prevent and treat sun allergy, there are also numbers of common-or-garden remedies that can help against sun allergy. Such tips are also called granny tips. For example, it is recommended to use cucumber to cool the skin and to reduce itching. Another granny tip to get rid of your red spots quickly is to apply a caring gel for insect and jellyfish bites on the red spots. A final tip to relieve sun allergy symptoms is to use calcium tablets. In Germany, a calcium injection or calcium tablets are often prescribed by the doctor to relieve symptoms of sun allergy, but in the Netherlands this almost never occurs.

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