What Is Photosensitivity? Know Symptoms, Causes And It’s Types

Sensitivity to sunlight can develop to anyone, here are types, signs and causes that you need to take care of.  

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Apr 01, 2022Updated at: Apr 01, 2022
What Is Photosensitivity? Know Symptoms, Causes And It’s Types

Summers are coming and it is becoming more difficult to go outside in the sun. Whenever we go out in the hot sun light, we get sunburns on our skin. This is because of the extreme heat and sensitivity towards the photogenic cells. Long exposure to the sunlight can sometimes cause even more problematic situations, such as photosensitivity. Risk of developing photosensitivity is quite a lot because of the UV rays that come out of the sun. Exposure to these UV rays can even cause skin damage and skin cancer in some situations. Condition can be a difficult situation to deal with and therefore we are here to help you reduce the risk. Today we will know about types of photosensitivity and symptoms that can determine that you have photosensitivity. 

What is Photosensitivity? 

We spoke to Dr. Anusha Goel, Consultant and Dermatologist at Ivory Hospital, Greater Noida. He explained that Photosensitivity is the condition of extreme sun burns that can cause deep skin damage. Exposure of UV rays on the skin cells that cause burns and rashes on the body. Photosensitivity is also of many types depending on the type of exposure and reaction in the body. People who are sensitive to skin rashes can actually have long lasting effect on their body. 


Types of Photosensitivity 

There are two major types of photo sensitive reactions that occurs because of sun- 

1. Phototoxic Reaction 

This reaction is caused in the circumstance where the body interacts with the UV rays. In this interaction there is reaction of UV rays with a new chemical which causes skin problems. Medications such as doxycycline and tetracycline can be that chemical and reaction problem. It can look like a skin burn which is actually skin rashes that develop over 24 hours of exposure.  

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2. Photoallergic reaction 

Photoallergic reaction comes as a side-effect of a medicine or chemical. This type of reaction is more common towards women than men because it occurs due to beauty products and sunscreen. This reaction on skin from the sun tends to be seen after a few days of exposure to the sun. It occurs in the form of rashes on different parts of the body. Mostly it is on arms, face, back or legs.  

What are symptoms of Photosensitivity? 

You may have symptoms of photosensitivity that varies according to every individual. Some symptoms of photosensitivity can be- 

  • Skin rashes 
  • Sunburns 
  • Itching in particular areas of exposure 
  • Blistering   
  • Peeling of skin 

Even these symptoms can affect your skin from mild to severe form. This means that rashes or burns can even be very discomforting and might cause obstacle in performing daily activities as well. 


What Causes Photosensitivity? 

1. Lupus Erythematous- Lupus is a connective tissue disease that can affect your skin adversely. Skin problems that result to red patches, lumps, and purple spots can cause these skin issues.  

2. Polymorphous Light eruption- people with this condition can have itchy rashes when they're exposed to the sunlight. If the exposure of UV rays continues then the tolerance increases and the symptoms appear less often. Women are two or three times more likely to get this condition rather than men who develop it. In fact, the severity of polymorphous eruption is seen more in women.

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3. Actinic Prurigo- This is also a type of photo sensitivity in which people develop red bumps after sun exposure. Photo sensitivity caused due to this disorder can actually turn red bumps after the sun exposure into scaly patches. This can affect you in any season and can happen if you go out in winter season as well. 

Picture Credits- istock.com