Sun allergy: The 4 Most Common Types – Part 2 – Prevention and Treatment
March 4, 2012

If you are prone to sun allergies, you know that prevention (and reduced sun exposure) is the key to avoiding symptoms from worsening:

– Apply a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection against the sun’s UVA and UVB
– Use sun protection specifically made for your lips
– Limit your time outdoors when the sun is at its peak
– Wear sunglasses with ultraviolet light protection
– Wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a hat with a wide brim

Be aware of any skincare products and medications that may trigger a photoallergic eruption. If you are taking prescription medication, and you normally spend a great deal of time outdoors, ask your doctor whether you should take any special precautions to avoid sun.

Sun Allergies Treatments

If the rash has already developed, treatment will depend on the specific type of sun allergy.

PMLE For mild symptoms, apply cool compresses on the itchy rash, or mist your skin with sprays of cool water. You can also try a nonprescription oral antihistamine to relieve itching, or a cream containing cortisone. For more severe symptoms, your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength oral antihistamine or corticosteroid cream.

If these remedies are not effective, your doctor may prescribe phototherapy, a treatment that produces hardening by gradually exposing your skin to increasing doses of ultraviolet light. Note that phototherapy is not available everywhere, it is time consuming and must be repeated every spring.  If standard phototherapy fails, your doctor may try beta-carotene tablets or antimalarial drugs.

Actinic prurigo (hereditary PMLE) Treatment options include prescription-strength corticosteroids, thalidomide, PUVA, antimalarial drugs and beta-carotene.

Photoallergic eruption The first step is to eliminate the medication or skincare product that is triggering the allergic reaction. Skin symptoms usually can be treated with a corticosteroid cream.

Solar urticaria For mild hives, you can try a nonprescription oral antihistamine to relieve itching, or an anti-itch skin cream containing cortisone. For more severe hives, your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength antihistamine or corticosteroid cream. In extreme cases, your doctor may prescribe phototherapy, PUVA or antimalarial drugs.


If you have one of those sun allergies, the outlook is usually very good, especially if you consistently use sunscreens and protective clothing. Most people with PMLE or actinic prurigo improve significantly within five to seven years after diagnosis, and lots of preventive treatments exists so you can enjoy your summer. Almost anyone who suffers from photoallergic eruptions can be cured by avoiding the specific chemical that triggers the sun allergy. Of all the types of sun allergies, solar urticaria is the only one that is likely to be a long-term problem. However, for some people, the condition eventually subsides.

Learn more about PMLE alternative treatments here