Last updated: May 18, 2011
sun-light-blotchy
Juliette Borda
Q: When Ive been in the sun for a few days, my chest and arms get itchy and break out in red splotches. Am I allergic to sunlight?


A: As weird as it may sound, it is possible. There are actually a few types of sun allergies. The most common is polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), which often shows up—sometimes within minutes—as an itchy red rash on body parts exposed to sunlight, especially the neckline, the backs of the arms, the face, and the hands.

You could also simply be extra-sensitive to the sun—medical conditions, such as lupus, can increase your sensitivity, as can medications like Retin-A, sulfa-based drugs (like some antibiotics), and certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Be sure to discuss your symptoms with your doctor so she can figure out whats going on. Treatment for a sun allergy typically involves steroid creams or antihistamines. And, of course, if youre prone to bad reactions when you bask, be vigilant about using sunblock and covering up.