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Blotchy Skin After Sun Exposure

Blotchy Skin After Sun Exposure Blotchy Skin After Sun Exposure

Overview

One of life's greatest pleasures is basking in the sun. Unfortunately, too much time in the sun without protection can be harmful to the skin. Many conditions and substances can trigger the skin to react to the solar rays, resulting in a rash or blotchy skin immediately or shortly after exposure.

Skin Disorders

Melasma is one skin condition that is triggered by exposure to the sun, causing characteristic brown to gray-brown patches to appear on the face. Cheeks, nose, forehead, chin and upper lip can be affected. The condition may be hereditary, but it appears more often in women than in men. Because of its prevalence during pregnancy, it is known as the "mask of pregnancy." Sun exposure brings on the skin symptoms because ultraviolet light stimulates pigment-producing cells. Just a small amount of sun exposure can cause a recurrence of melasma after fading.

Allergic Reactions

A red, blotchy rash can develop after only a few minutes of sun exposure caused by a sun allergy, the response of an immune system that is overreacting to what it perceives as a foreign component --- the sun. Photoallergic reactions resemble contact dermatitis, with skin inflammation restricted to sun-exposed areas of the body. Ten to 15 percent of people in the United States have this form of sun allergy, according to About Your Allergies.

Drug-Induced Photosensitivity

Sun rashes could be caused by certain drugs and medications, including antibiotics, such as tetracyclines; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen; and birth control pills and tranquilizers, according to MayoClinic.com. Skin sensitivities usually disappear, once the offending medication has been discontinued. Some diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and some porphyrias, may cause the skin reactions in response to sunlight, according to Merck Manuals.

Phototoxic Reactions

Phototoxic reactions occur because certain light-activated compounds damage cell membranes, resulting in bumps, hives or red blotchy areas to occur repeatedly in the same place after each sun exposure. Many compounds have the potential to cause phototoxicity, including antibacterial ingredients in medicated soaps and creams, perfumes, cosmetics or sunscreens, and can make the skin sensitive to the sun. Also, contact with some plants, such as the stems, leaves, berries or seeds of celery, wild parsnip, lemons or limes, can cause a skin rash after being in the sun.

Avoiding Sun Damage

The best way to prevent skin damage is by protecting yourself from overexposure to sunlight especially during the peak hours of solar radiation. Select a sunscreen to provide best protection for your skin type, time of year, location and according to your typical outdoor activities. The product you use should have an SPF value of 15 or greater. For maximum protection, use opaque sunscreen, such as zinc oxide, to cover your nose and lips.

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