Actinic Prurigo and Sun Allergy

Actinic prurigo pictures

Sun allergy or most called as Actinic Prurigo, a condition in which the skin reaction is triggered by the sunlight. When the sunlight strikes the skin, the immune system reacts and most often results to red and itchy rashes. Its common locations are on the back of hands, around the neck resembling a “V”, surfaces of the legs and arms. For some people, the reactions are severe which results to the formation of small blisters or hives that often spreads unto the skin’s clothed areas.

It is still unclear why the body develops this kind of reaction but the immune system can recognize the skin’s sun-altered components as foreign and the body responds by activating the immune defenses to combat against this reaction. Skin allergy can only occur to people with sensitivity to sun and can be triggered by even a few minutes of sun exposure.

Studies and researches cannot identify the exact reason why some people develop this condition while other does not. However, there is evidence that sun allergy is inherited.

Actinic Prurigo Causes

  • The major cause of sun allergy or actinic prurigo is the sunlight in which the ultraviolet radiation is responsible in triggering some changes on the skin cells. These changes cause the immune system to incorrectly identify the proteins in the skin cells as damaging invaders. Once the immune system identifies these changes, the body reacts by releasing antibodies that attacks cells leading to manifestation of symptoms.
  • For some people, sun allergy is triggered when exposed to bright light during summer or spring. However, there are also some people that develop this condition during the winter. For people suffering from sever sun allergy, the reaction may be even elicited by indoor lights.
  • There are instances that certain medications can trigger sun allergy. Also, chemicals and other medication can even make the skin more sensitive, this is often referred to as photosensitivity. Example: an ingredient of a shampoo or even having lupus disease can increase chances of being photosensitive. In most cases, this is not identified as an allergic reaction but having same symptoms as of sun allergy.

Actinic Prurigo Pictures

Actinic prurigo pictures


Actinic prurigo

Note : Actinic Prurigo Pictures taken from Dermatology Atlas (copyright)


  1. The symptoms may vary and is highly depending on the type of skin allergy. For PMLE or Polymorphic light eruption, symptoms include burning rashes that are very itchy. This may likely to occur after 2 hours of sun exposure. The rashes can also be found on the neck, arms, legs and chest and the sufferer will feel 2 hours of headache, chills, malaise and nausea. For rare cases, the PMLE may erupt turning as red plaques, small blisters with fluids inside and bleeding under the surface of the skin.
  2. For Hereditary PMLE, symptoms could include similar to the first type but the manifestations are more concentrated on the face especially around the lips.
  3. Another type of sun allergy is the Photo allergic Eruption in which causes either tiny fluid-filled blisters or itchy red rashes. In some cases, the skin eruption scatters on the skin covered with clothing. Since this type of allergy is a delayed hypersensitivity, symptoms may start after 2 days of sunlight exposure.
  4. Lastly, solar urticaria is having symptoms that usually appear on skin areas that are uncovered in few minutes of sunlight exposure.

Risk Factors


Anyone can acquire skin allergy whatever the race is. However, this allergy can occur to people with certain racial background. Most Caucasians are being affected by this condition as well as the Native Americans.

Exposure to Certain Substances

Some sun allergies are triggered by exposure to fragrances, sunscreens and disinfectants.

Age and Sex

PMLE is also triggered by sex and age. This kind of skin condition is more common to women aging below 30. However, a juvenile form of this skin condition can appear to boys and young men. But when there is too much exposure, chronic actinic dermatitis can possibly occur.

Certain Medications

When taking certain medications, the possibility to acquire PMLE is higher. Some of these medications include NSAID’s like ketoprofen, tetracycline antibiotics and sulfa-based drugs.

Having another skin condition

When already suffering from another skin condition, the possibility of acquiring sun allergy is high.

Family History

Since sun allergy is hereditary, it can likely to occur to other members of the family.

Treatment and Prevention

There are various ways to prevent and treat sun allergy. First thing that commonly helps a person avoid it from developing is through avoiding sun exposure. If not, minimize your exposure to sunlight if possible. Also, it might be helpful if you apply skin moisturizers to relieve the irritation caused by scaly and dry skin. Soothing remedies are also ideal in getting over sun allergies. There are home remedies that can give a huge relief from itchiness such as aloe Vera and calamine lotion.

To prevent sun allergy, you must avoid sun exposure if you are already diagnosed having it. In addition, if it is possible to avoid sudden sun exposure, then do it. Stay out of the sun between 10 am to 3 pm. This is the time where the sun shines brightest. Whatever the amount of sunlight, one thing you must note in mind is to avoid the light.

Furthermore, wear protective clothing and sun glasses. Wear long sleeves and hats that are wide-brimmed. Use thick fabrics where light cannot pass through. Apply sunscreen with above 30 SPF content and reapply as necessary.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect that you are already having sun allergy, better seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is important in order prevent further complications. In addition, you must also seek help from a dermatologist, a skin expert.

Diagnosis and Tests

Doctors can come up with a proper diagnosis if the patient answers a questionnaire properly. This is a good way to diagnose the type of sun allergy the patient is suffering from. Another test would be UV light testing, also often called phototesting.

After being diagnosed and treated, you must take certain measures not to worsen your condition. There are as well foods that can trigger the itchiness and appearance of the allergy. Therefore, in order to help yourself aware about this disorder, talk to your doctor right away. Also, be sure to eat foods that are healthy and nutritious.



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