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Apparently this is an allergy that afffects 10-20 percent of us. More if you grew up way north in Minnesota or Sweden or even Northern China.

It affects fair-skinned people. Mostly women. Especially women in their 30s and 40s, as something about menopause stops the allergen.

For the past two days, as the weather has been nice, I've walked to school and back with my child. Today, for the second time this spring, I've broken out into itchy hives and did a bit of research:

Polymorphous light eruption is an itchy rash caused by sun exposure in people who have developed a sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity). The rash usually appears as red, tiny bumps or slightly raised patches of skin.

Polymorphous light eruption occurs most often during spring and early summer when a person's exposure to sunlight increases. Repeat episodes are less likely as the summer progresses, but polymorphous light eruption often recurs each year after the first incident.

Although polymorphous light eruption usually resolves on its own without treatment, medications may be needed to treat severe or persistent cases. Measures to protect the skin from sun exposure or light therapy may help prevent recurring episodes of polymorphous light eruption

I'm kind of curious if I'm alone in developing these rashes in the sun. I went through this years ago when the Internet was not much, and am curious if I'm just a weirdo or this is widespread.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Less tolerant, not allergic, can only sit in sun (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat68, Youffraita

    for 5 minutes or less, hurts skin, but then so does windy days, hurt my skin. I think its age or a harsh reality coming through like damage ozone layer maybe?

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones." "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:41:28 PM PDT

  •  Ack! NO! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    Have avoided sun for a decade or two b/c of concerns about skin cancer. But definitely not allergic.

    Actually, I thought this was going to be a post about night owls, lol.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:32:31 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like my spouse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    Has problems with getting pretty much any sun at all. Has to be very very careful. Very very white.

    I, on the other hand, don't feel good unless I get some sun. Not a lot - maybe a half hour or so in the mid day at a time with a skipped day in between.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:39:08 AM PDT

  •  I know of someone, about 3d hand... a former (0+ / 0-)

    participant here, lives in OKC, her daughter (20's?) developed a "sun allergy" and has had to re-arrange her life, including work, so she doesn't have to go out during the day. I don't remember much about her situation.

    I'm pretty sure I do know that some medications can trigger excessive sensitivity in some folks... penicillin?

    other allergies can produce rashes, such as grass pollen, and sweat. also chemicals in the environment can provoke these symptoms.

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:45:01 AM PDT

    •  glipizide (0+ / 0-)

      is one such medication. I know because I tanned in a tanning salon for the last 20-some years, but last year my Dr. put me on glipizide and I broke out in a terrible rash. Never tanning again (which is of course a good thing).

  •  Mild reactions for two of my family members. (0+ / 0-)

    Early in the season and nothing more after that.

    This better be good. Because it is not going away.

    by DerAmi on Thu May 23, 2013 at 01:34:33 AM PDT

  •  I have this condition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mortifyd, kat68

    I have to wear long sleeves and pants in the summer. Even then, the backs of my hands and my wrists will be covered with tiny itchy bumps all summer long.

    It usually starts at night on a day I've been riding in the car. Sometimes the next morning.

    O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

    by Kevanlove on Thu May 23, 2013 at 03:29:55 AM PDT

    •  Oh and I'm 60 now. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peglyn, kat68

      So much for the menopause cure.

      O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

      by Kevanlove on Thu May 23, 2013 at 03:31:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great.... (0+ / 0-)

        I'm still itchy and covered in bumps. Had hoped there was a light at the end of the tunnel in five to ten years. That's discouraging...

        •  It can go into remission (0+ / 0-)

          Apparently, it can just stop at some point. I'm hoping for that.

          O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

          by Kevanlove on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:08:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, that's the discouraging part. (0+ / 0-)

            I had this for years--especially for the six years I lived in the UK where sun was rare. Then it went away for five years after we moved back to Virginia, and I thought I was rid of this annoyance.

            Now it's back.

            Oh well. I fully realize this is nothing in comparison to others 'chronic illnesses and I will have nice skin in my old age. If only I hadn't smoked, I would have the porcelain complexion of a china doll. And I quit at age 33, so my wrinkles are still fairly minor.

            Gotta look at the upside, right?

  •  sometimes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat68

    I have had the rash on skin on my back + chest with first exposure of the spring. if i use a good sun block i dont get it.  Itches like crazy!

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:13:54 AM PDT

  •  One of my close friends has it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lilith, kat68, jan4insight

    She's very very fair and is luckily Canadian - so she got a proper diagnosis and care.  She can NOT be in the sun without covering - at all - uses an umbrella and gloves and giant hat with a veil kind of not at all - good thing she's a gothy kind of woman.

    She's also of Slavic decent - and says that it may very well be where the "vampires burn in the sun" concept came from.

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:16:47 AM PDT

  •  I developed what a dermatologist described (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat68, Lilith

    as an allergic reaction to the sun when I was in my teens, working as a dock attendant at a marina. It was exactly as you described: my chest and throat were covered with small, itchy, red bumps. I would cover up with sunscreen, and it would always go away by the middle of the summer. By my twenties I no longer had a problem with it, probably since I was working a desk job by then and continued to slather myself with sunscreen any time I went out.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:59:06 AM PDT

  •  nope, you're not alone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat68, Lilith

    It's an allergy I developed around age 40. Don't know why. If I let myself get sunburnt at all, I get those same nasty rashes that itch like crazy. Getting a tan isn't quite enough exposure to make the rash erupt badly. In fact, getting a tan seems to help as it's harder for me to burn when I have a tan. The only thing I can do is to put on itch relief stuff and wait for it to go away.

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:16:24 AM PDT

  •  I am allergic to the sun. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat68, Mortifyd, dougymi

    Have been since I was a little girl.  I get really bad rashes all over my body after just a few minutes of sun exposure.  
    Even sunblock won't help me, I've tried everything up to SPF 90 and the only thing that helps is covering up.  

    My rash got so bad once that I had to be taken to the ER - they simply gave me a shot of cortisone and I was better within a few hours, but believe me I never want to go through that again.  

    When I was little I hated the fact that I was always the palest redhead - I veritably glowed in the dark.   But as I've gotten older and wiser (I totally did not type that with a straight face) now I sort of look at it as a blessing in disguise at least I didn't spend any time in the sun as a girl and my skin now reflects that.

    FYI I grew up in northern Illinois and am of Slavic descent.  

    not all those who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien

    by Lilith on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:29:22 AM PDT

  •  I have a brown complexion(click scree name) (0+ / 0-)

    and from the age of 6 to 11, when the sun beat down on my head, my nose would bleed(my Mom had that taken care of). Then I remember riding the bus everyday, and when the sun would beat down on either side of my neck, little rashes would appear. By time I turned 22, all of that issue went away.... Now, I'm almost 50, in Menopause, and every time I put the top down, and the sun beats down on either side of my neck, the rash reappears.... Let's just say, I have a Dermatology appt in June....:o)

    P.S. I don't think that you a weirdo.....:o)

    May today be greater than yesterday, and tomorrow be greater than both! Go Ravens!

    by secret38b on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:30:43 AM PDT

    •  Aw, thanks for not calling me a weirdo. (0+ / 0-)

      Too late to rec you :( . In retrospect, this wasn't diary-worthy, really. I was itching like a mad woman and woozy on antihistamines...Still, it made me feel a lot better that others suffer from the same thing as I've never met a fellow sufferer in real life. And there are some good tips here as well.

  •  Sounds like a description of my family! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm Celtic; my kids are Celtic/Slavic.  Not only do we burn after 5 minutes in sunlight, we get red, itchy rashes.  So we cover up and wear sunblock.  Hats are absolutely necessary.  We wash our clothes in an additive that makes them SPF30.

    Funny thing, we all LOVE the outdoors and sports that expose us to the sun.  It takes a huge amount of planning and vigilance, but it is possible to be almost normal (we do look odd going to the amusement park wearing long sleeves, long pants and floppy hats!).  

    My daughter's sons are the only ones who are not affected.  Their father is Spanish and they seem to have inherited his ability to tan with no effort.  Her oldest son has married a young woman who is Puerto Rican/Italian, so I have hopes that their daughter will never know the problem.

    BTW, I had a small respite after menopause where I could go in the sun (with sunblock as I would still burn) without getting the rash.  But then I developed an irregular heartbeat and one of the medications has ended that.  :(    

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:03:01 AM PDT

  •  "Discoid lupus" is another potential (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    second gen

    reason. I had sun problems since early childhood and that was the diagnosis I finally got when I saw a knowledgable dermatologist in my mid twenties. He confirmed it with a biopsy of one of the little bumps.

    I try to minimize exposure with hats and sunscreen but if I am overexposed a few chloroquine pills will quiet the bumps and itching down and they dry up and disappear.

    I'd see a dermatologist if I were you.

    Further, affiant sayeth not.

    by Gary Norton on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:11:00 AM PDT

  •  You're not alone... (0+ / 0-)

    I break out too after maybe 30-45 mins in the sun

  •  I have Lupus, which is a lot like PMLE with (0+ / 0-)

    the added "benefit" of organ damage, fatigue, among other things. In fact, I was originally diagnosed with PMLE until I insisted on further investigation. Having 4 other relatives with Lupus is kind of a tip off.

    I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

    by second gen on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:00:28 AM PDT

    •  Oh, it also has the wonderful side effect of (0+ / 0-)

      severely depleted Vitamin D levels since I avoid the sun as much as possible. :(

      I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

      by second gen on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:01:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't tend this diary very well as I took a ton (0+ / 0-)

      of antihistamines after miserably scratching my arms open, and eventually passed out.

      I'm so sorry to hear about your lupus. I have several good friends with this, and their symptoms range from quite mild to very serious. One of my best friends has frequent organ troubles plus scleroderma, and I worry for her constantly.

      A sun allergy is really not a big deal and is quite mild in terms of auto-immune disorders. I'm a little embarrassed to have written this diary now. In addition to the friends I mentioned above, my mom has MS and my daughter has a life-threatening nut and peanut allergy that requires us to carry epi-pens at all times. I just wish that instead of sequester and constant cutting back, we would funnel tons of money into scientists studying why and how to stop our bodies from mistakenly attacking us.

      My Dad, a recently retired microbiologist at a state U, recently told me less than 10 percent of NIH grants are currently being funded. That would have been a better use of a diary than this whining one. But thank you for your thoughtful response and best of luck with your health

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