Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is a sun rash the same as a sunburn?"
I'm in my late 20s, female, and I think I have a sun allergy of some kind, if there is such a thing. Any time I am in the sun for longer than an hour or so, I break out in a red blotchy rash. It takes about three or four days to go away. I know I should probably just stay out of the sun, but I want to know what this is. Is it a rash? An allergy? A burn?
In order to diagnose any skin condition, you must be examined by a qualified health care professional. In this case, the best type of doctor for you to see is a dermatologist. With that said, it does sound like you may have a skin condition known as photodermatitis. This is a type of sun allergy where a skin allergic reaction is activated by photons from the sun. The typical symptoms include a burning red, pruritic (itchy) rash that looks very similar to eczema. It occurs primarily on sun exposed areas of the skin. The best way to prevent photodermatitis is to limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen while out. I should note that limiting you exposure to the sun can result in vitamin D deficiency. It is for this reason that I recommend that you get seen first before implementing any strategies to prevent the rash. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. He or she can examine your skin closely and determine what it is that you have. If you do not have the rash at the time of your appointment, make sure to bring in detailed pictures of the rash along with a history of your sun exposure at the time of the rash.
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