Everyone needs sun protection, but some people are especially sensitive or even allergic to the sun.
This is called photosensitivity and can arise for a variety of reasons:
- Sun allergy, or “polymorphous light eruption,” where the skin breaks out in annoyingly itchy red bumps following sun exposure;
- Skin with a very fair phototype (skin tone), where the skin tends to burn with even mild sun exposure (red heads with freckles and blue eyes are particularly vulnerable)
- Certain ingredients in skincare products such as AHAs, retinol and benzoyl peroxide can make the skin ultra-sensitive to UV, resulting in rashes following exposure;
- Some medications taken by mouth, especially tetracycline antibiotics and the acne drug isotretinoin (Accutane), can cause sudden swelling or irritation in response to sun exposure;
- Skin with underlying problems such as eczema, acne or rosacea can be aggravated by the drying effect of the sun;
- Some cancer treatments cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation puts you at risk for very intense sunburns, so it is generally advised to avoid any sun exposure. You should be even more careful if you are undergoing radiation therapy, as chronic radiodermatitis may occur, in some cases even several years after your treatment.
- Certain pre-existing medical conditions such as lupus can make skin photosensitive and break out in rashes following UV exposure.
Prevention is key
In all cases of sun allergy or photosensitivity, whatever the cause, your buzzword is prevention and following a few simple steps can make all the difference.
Particularly in spring and summer, wear protective clothing (hat, long-sleeved shirt etc.). Always Opt for broad-spectrum UVA-UVB protection that is tested on the most sensitive skin, such as the ANTHELIOS range from the sensitive skin specialist brand La Roche-Posay. All ANTHELIOS products integrate naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water to soothe sensitive skin. Avoid exposure when the sun is at its strongest between 10 am and 4 pm.