I have always been a summer child, loving the sunshine and the mild evenings spent at the beach, the lake or outdoors in a café with a glass of wine. Laying in the sun having the sunrays tickle my nose makes me feel at peace and calms me during tough and stressful times. Which makes it even harder to accept that the sun is not only my friend but simultaneously my enemy.
Disclaimer: If you don’t like medical talk, this post might not be for you 🙂
I first discovered that I had sun allergy, photosensitivity in medical terms, when I was a young teenager. I noticed that whenever I spent too much time with my skin exposed to the sun my skin started itching really badly, expecially my extremities such as my under arms. When I started to get small patches of rash on the itching parts of my skin I knew something was seriously wrong. The diagnosis of my dermatologist I consulted was immediately clear.
What is sun allergy?
A sun allergy can occur in different kinds of manifestations, depending on the serverity of it. The most common symptoms are skin reactions such as itching, light rashes up to red skin and forms of dermatitis. It hasn’t been discovered what exactly causes photosensitivity in the body but it is triggered by natural UV–radiation, divided into UVA-rays and UVB-rays. UVA is usually the more damaging type of radiation and more likely to cause sun allergy due to the waves being longer and even affecting the dermis, the part of the skin right underneath the epidermis, the top layer of our skin.
How I deal with photosensitivity
Important: As an initial disclaimer I want to let you know that I am in no way an expert of any kind in terms of skin conditions and you should always consult an expert on the field before taking any kind of action. Every skin is different and everyone experiences photosensitivity differently. Additionally, I advise you to use any kind of supplement with care. Always put the health of your body first.
I have a very light kind of sun allergy where I mainly deal with strong itching and only an occasional occurence of dermatitis. It mainly happens when I’m in countries, where the UV-light is stronger and I’m more exposed to the sun but can also occur when the ozone layer is affected and thinner than usual. Conclusion: I am basically a walking UV-detector.
My Secret Weapons
There are various secret weapons helping me deal with my sun allergy. One thing that has helped me a lot, which my dermatologist suggested to me, are vitamine D tablets. Those are basically a form of health supplement when your body is lacking certain nutrients that are essential for your general health. The ones I use are called „Heliocare Ultra D“ and truly help wonders in my particular case. It’s technically not a medicine and doesn’t have side effects which is why you can purchase them at the pharmacy without needing a prescription. (Again, always talk to your dermatologist before using any kinds of supplements because it really depends on your individual conditions what treatment is most likely to help, I can not emphasise this enough.)
As much as the vitamine D helps me, without skin care it would have a much less noticeable effect. I use a special sunscreen with SPF 30 by „Ladival“ that was especially created for people with sun allergy. It’s available in the pharmacy and on the pricier side but definitely helps with protecting the skin from UV-light. The only downside it has a very oily texture, making your skin a bit sticky.
On my face, I’m usually using Dermalogica’s Prisma Protect with SPF 30, as my face isn’t as sensitive to the sun as my arms and legs but nontheless protecting your skin should be a well integrated part of your routine in the summer. I have found Dermalogica products to be extremely effective in terms of sun protection and am glad I stumbled across the brand. A very cool addition is that all their products are vegan and cruelty-free, which is a super important factor nowadays.
SPF is important
When I went to Thailand in June I decided to level up the SPF a bit and tried Dermalogica’s Protection Sport with SPF 50 and literally didn’t get sunburnt once as it’s even waterproof to some extent. Obviously you need to re-apply the product when you stay in the water for longer than a couple minutes because let’s be real, waterproof products can only handle so much. Other than that I was honestly pleasantly surprised as also the smell was quite a difference to my usual pharmacy bought allergy sun screen and figured that in combination with the vitamine D it was a perfect way to fight off the annoying itching of my skin.
In a week of travelling all around Thailand my skin only itched once which was a life changing experience to me because this skin issue has already turned several holidays in the sun into a nightmare.
Accepting your Flaws
I remember that, in the early stages, I struggled a lot with my allergy, as the condition is even more annoying when you’re young and just want to enjoy your summer holidays without the constant fear of not being able to step into the sun for a day because your skin is rebelling. I’ve come to accept it as a part of myself throughout the years as I can’t really change it anyway. And now that I’ve found a way to trick my skin in most cases, I have stopped to constantly think about it. Just like me having put in my contacts every morning since I was eight years old, walking the extra mile to avoid an allergy outbreak has become part of my routine.