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Revised Thinking About Sun Sensitivity | 2024 AAD


Contrary to previously held beliefs, reactions are possible regardless of skin tone or age.

Photocontact dermatitis is an often-misunderstood sun sensitivity disease that causes an itchy rash, blisters or a burning sensation to appear on areas of the body exposed to sunlight.

Research show that also that photosensitivity can affect anyone, regardless of age or skin tone. In fact, new studies show that there are two types of photosensitivity that people with darker skin are more susceptible to.

The first is known as polymorphous light eruption, which manifests as tiny bumps or rashes that come and go with sun exposure. The second is chronic actinic dermatitis, which causes rashes year-round.

Rashes can also appear after handling food like limes and celery, thanks to a chemical reaction that takes place when compounds in the food are activated by the sun. The application of topical pain relief creams and blood pressure medications like hydrochlorothiazide run the risk of rash too if used before going out into the sun.

To avoid these symptoms, sun protection like a hat or long shirt plus SPF 30 or higher is essential.

Brandon L. Adler, M.D.

Brandon L. Adler, M.D.

“If you notice a rash or blistering on your body after being in the sun, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist, who can determine whether you have a sun-related skin disorder,” said Brandon L. Adler, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC, in a news release from the American Academy of Dermatology about its 2024 annual meeting in San Diego.

“No two patients are the same,” Adler said in the news release. “A board-certified dermatologist can determine what is causing your sun sensitivity and provide a treatment option that works best for your condition.”

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