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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Sun Allergy
June 2000

Q. I am a 30-year-old and was born with a deficiency that has always been termed by my family and doctor as sun allergy. It is genetic in my family. When exposed to the sunlight (or even indirect rays), my skin will heat up to the point where I feel like I am being burnt alive. When I was a child, my skin would swell and have little red spots or spotches. As I got older, the spotches would cover the entire area exposed. This process occurs quickly on some days and slowly on others. Once redness and swelling sets in (along with the severe pain), it will take 2-3 days or up to two weeks (depending on exposure) to be back to normal again. The only thing I or my family doctor has found to help is to take a COLD Bath to lower my body tempature, and to use Pure Aloe Vera with no additives. This does not cause any great change in the healing process but does aleve the pain a little. If there is any thing that you are aware of that may assist me please inform me.

A. Hypersensitivity to the sun is not uncommon. Unfortunately, it sounds like you have a much more severe case than average. It is obviously genetic/hereditary in your case. It sounds like you have tried several treatments, mostly without success. The cold compresses are a good idea. Also, besides avoidance of the sun, other useful treatments include anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin or Naprosyn that can help reduce the inflammation and pain. Topical steroids such as triamcinolone may also help, especially if there is some itching. In some cases, it may be possible to desensitize the skin by actually exposing you to a certain amount of UVA and UVB irradiation in a controlled setting. I would highly recommend that you see a Dermatologist who would have the ability to consider and review with you all treatment options.

Good luck.

Ref: American Academy of Dermatology: http://www.aad.org/

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