Allergic to the sun




With the fabulous weather we’ve been having over the last few weeks I thought I’d be sporting a lovely golden tan at this stage.  I’ve been out in the garden as much as I can, whether it’s pulling up weeds, slaving over a hot barbecue, or simply panning out on a flat sun lounger. (You can tell by the state of the garden and the cleanliness of the barbecue which one of these I resorted to most often.)

Unfortunately my skin has had other ideas. It has objected profusely to being exposed to the warm rays of sunshine, by developing an ‘itch-scratch-itch’ reaction.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this experience.  I spent a three day trip to New York eight years ago (part of our honeymoon) clawing the legs off myself, such was the reaction of my skin to the heatwave in progress at the time.  Holidays in France, when it’s been especially warm, have resulted in the same misery.

But, by Jaysus, this year has been the worst so far. Up until now the reaction has usually been confined to my arms and legs. Two weeks ago my face flared up. The heat from my cheeks was such that I’m fairly sure I could have toasted marshmallows on them.

Prickly Heat

At first I blamed a heat rash. And that’s what most other people seemed to think it might be.  A pharmacist gave me Cetrine (an antihistamine tablet) and told me to take one a day and to use Eurax lotion.

I may as well have swallowed smarties and applied water to my skin. I would get about ten minutes of relief, and if anything brushed against my arms or legs, the itch-scratch-itch was off again.

In Boots I asked the pharmacist for a stronger antihistamine and she gave me Piriton, warning me that I shouldn’t drive as the Piriton would make me drowsy. It didn’t.  And it didn’t stop the itch either because I’m sitting here scratching again.

At this stage I’ve tried everything I can think of, and every suggestion that I can find on the internet. My morning routine consists of exfoliating with an antiseptic soap, after which I apply Lanacane medicated talcum powder.  I must have the cleanest skin in Irelan,d and I imagine I probably smell like a walking hospital. But the procedure is not really helping.


As a last resort, before I ran off to the doctor to complain about my itchy skin, I decided to Google ‘sun allergies’. To my surprise I found that there were several types.  A piece written by Dr. Robert Sarkany at was especially helpful. I discovered that there are tests that can be carried out to find which type of allergy I might have. And, from what I’ve read, it seems more likely to be PLE – Polymorphic Light Eruption – which is very often confused with prickly heat, but is much more common.

Armed with this knowledge I am now making a doctor’s appointment to see if there’s a possibility that I won’t have to spend future sunny days behaving like I’m crawling with fleas!!

In the meantime, if you’re reading and you’ve managed to find a solution, then please feel free to share. I’d be very grateful.



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