Two Options For Treating Solar Urticaria

Within every fiction story, there is a grain of truth. Case in point, in many vampire stories, the fanged antagonist turns into a pile of dust whenever he or she comes into prolonged contact with sunlight. Although vampires aren't real, sun allergies are. Called solar urticaria, people with this condition experience a variety of symptoms including itching, pain, and hives whenever their skin comes into contact with the sun's rays. Here's more information about this allergy and possible treatment options.

A Rare Allergy Disorder

As previously explained, people with solar urticaria have allergic reactions whenever the sun touches their skin. Specifically, people with this condition are allergic to the UV rays the sun emits, which means they can't use tanning beds or any product that uses UV light.

Some people develop solar urticaria via genetics. However, other people develop it as a side effect to exposure to certain chemicals or medications. For example, people who take benoxaprofen may develop this allergy as well as those who handle tar and pitch.

Diagnosing this condition can be challenging, but you may have solar urticaria if you

  • break out in hives after being in the sun for 10 minutes; these marks usually go away after a few hours indoors
  • get headaches or feel weak and nauseated after having a large patch of skin exposed to the sun
  • experience itchy skin
  • have red patches that form on the skin and become swollen

A healthcare professional will typically perform a photopatch test (i.e. expose a patch of skin to UV rays) to help him or her determine if you are affected by this condition.

Treating Solar Urticaria

There are a several different ways to treat this allergy. One common way is to desensitize the skin by exposing it gradually to increasing amounts of UV light that causes the allergic reaction. The patient builds up a tolerance to the sun that helps prevent outbreaks for a period of time.

There are two different types of this treatment: phototherapy and photochemotherapy, with the main difference being phototherapy only lasts for up to three days while the results from photochemotherapy last longer.

Another treatment option is to take immunosuppressant drugs that stop the immune system from reacting aggressively to allergen. This type of treatment is best for extreme cases as these medications reduce the effectiveness of your body's defense systems and puts you at a greater risk of falling ill.

For more information about this condition or other treatment options, contact an allergy specialist.