What can you do against sun allergies?

Jun 7, 2024

What can you do against sun allergies?

During the first few days in the sea or in the pool in a sunny country, it strikes: itching! Pimples everywhere. On the arms, on the décolleté and on the lower legs. The skin is red and itchy. Do you know this? There are many causes of sun-related skin rashes. However, there is a good chance that you are suffering from a sun allergy. Your fair skin, which has been hidden under a few layers of clothing all winter and is suddenly exposed to a strong dose of UV radiation, protests.

It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the European population is affected in summer. Sun allergy usually occurs around the age of 30 and affects women four times more often than men. It affect me when I was beginning o my 20s. 

Slightly different for everyone

Sun allergy can develop suddenly and unfortunately cannot be treated. It looks different for everyone. For some it is mainly blisters, for others red pimples, some suffer from red, swollen skin and others only suffer from itching. The rash usually appears after you have been in the sun for a few hours and can be very itchy and burning. Some sufferers even complain of nausea. Unfortunately, there is no really good treatment option. However, with the right measures, the problems can be reduced.

Increase slowly

The most important thing, of course, is to stop overexposing the skin to sunlight. Suitable measures include wearing protective clothing, staying in the shade and avoiding the sun during the hottest hours.
You should always let your skin get used to sunlight at the beginning of the season if you are hypersensitive to it.

Use sunscreen with a high SPF and effective UVA protection, as sun allergy is caused by UVA radiation. Make sure you use a sunscreen that has the special UVA label on the bottle and avoid US sunscreens.

Skin condition

Make sure your skin is in good condition, because healthy skin can protect itself better against external influences. This can be achieved with a healthy diet, good moisturizing care, but also by using a cream with sufficient anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants. Aggressive soap and irritating cosmetic products should be avoided. There is growing evidence that such ingredients can also limit the risk of sun allergy (1, 2, 3, 4).

It has been described that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract (PL) can help. Other anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants may be just as good, but have simply not been studied well enough. I would love to know what effects astaxanthin has on sun allergy. If you have any experience with it, please let me know!

Bacteria and vitamin D

Incidentally, it has recently been suggested that your skin microbiome may play a role in the development of sun allergy (5, 6, 7). In other words, under the influence of sunlight, certain bacteria on your skin can produce substances that trigger problems. Whether it is effective to take probiotics or apply them to the skin, for example, has not yet been clearly established. However, it is advisable to treat the good bacteria on your skin well. This means not using aggressive soaps and only using antibiotics when really necessary.

Studies have also shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with sun allergy (8, 9, 10). Make sure your vitamin D level is always right. For many people, it is therefore advisable to take an additional vitamin D supplement. This vitamin is good for many things and, in my opinion, really necessary.

To be on the safe side

If you suffer from a sun allergy, it is advisable to take a tube of hydrocortisone and antihistamine tablets with you on vacation. In the event of severe reactions, you can decide together with your doctor to take hydrocortisone tablets as a preventative measure.

Fortunately, there is also some good news. It appears that the immune system is more active in people affected by sun allergy and they may therefore have a lower risk of developing skin cancer. So having a sun allergy also has its advantages!

Other complaints in summer

In the coming summer weeks, I will be writing about a number of skin problems that can thoroughly spoil your vacation. Next time I'll tell you more about a skin rash that is very similar to sun allergy, but caused by the ingredients in cosmetics or medication.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on support@nayaglow.com


Relevant articles: 

The Science between Chemical (organic) and Physical (inorganic) sunscreens

Shield your skin from the sun

Overview of filters

Does sunscreen deplete me from Vitamin D

Why you should protect your skin from UVA

The ABC of sunscreen

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