Sun allergy is triggered by exposure to sunlight. The different types of sun allergy include polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis (CAD) and solar urticaria. The symptoms and treatment may vary depending on the particular type of sun allergy you have. Treatment options for sun allergy include:
Corticosteroid creams: Several topical steroid creams are available for the treatment of sun allergy. It can reduce itching and improve or hasten healing of the rash. These creams are available both as over-the-counter medications and in stronger, prescription form. The prescription strength cortisone creams are more effective and stronger than over-the-counter creams. Non-prescription 1% hydrocortisone cream is useful for self-treatment of PMLE before consulting a doctor.
Oral antihistamines: In allergy, a chemical known as histamine is released that causes the symptoms of allergy. Antihistamine medications (such as cetirizine, loratidine, clemastine) block histamine. These medications are available both as over-the-counter antihistamine pills or prescription pills. Some commonly available over-the-counter antihistamine pills include newer antihistamines, such as loratadine, cetirizine or older ones, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and clemastine. The older antihistamine medications are as effective as newer ones, but can make you drowsy. Some of the prescription antihistamines are desloratadine, fexofenadine (Allegra), hydroxyzine and levocetirizine. These medications are effective in controlling the itching associated with sun allergy rash.
Oral corticosteroids: People with severe allergic skin reaction may be prescribed a short course of oral corticosteroids, such as prednisolone. Their wide-ranging and powerful anti-inflammatory activity makes them effective in relieving symptoms of severe allergic skin reaction. People who develop severe sun allergy may be prescribed an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone even prior to a period of sunlight exposure, such as before a summer vacation. These medications, however, should be used cautiously as they can cause many side-effects (such as easy skin bruising, weight gain, osteoporosis, facial changes and skin dystrophy) when used for long-term. Oral corticosteroids are most often prescribed for a short duration to prevent and relieve severe sun allergy symptoms.
Other medications: Some drugs that are basically used to treat other conditions are at times used to treat sun allergies in some people, such as hydroxychloroquine (a malaria medication), which may relieve symptoms of polymorphic light eruption and other sun allergies or antibiotics (medications to treat infections) may be given for chronic actinic dermatitis.
Ultraviolet light therapy: Ultraviolet light therapy or phototherapy may be given for sun allergy. For this therapy, a special lamp that emits ultraviolet light is used. The areas of your body that are often exposed to the sun are treated during this therapy. You will be given the therapy a few times a week for several weeks each spring and the dose of UV radiation is gradually increased.
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