rowan77

Possible sun allergy

19 posts in this topic

So I usually go on holidays to the sun for a week or 10 days every year. We have such miserable weather here in Ireland that I just have to go somewhere to feel the sun beating down on me for a short time. Helps my sanity!!

Anyway for the past 8 years approx I get a really horrible itchy stinging rash made up of tiny blisters all over my arms... nowhere else. It looks like prickly heat but also could be an allergy to the sun or the actual sun protection. But why just on my arms??!! The only thing I can think of is that I have very hairy arms and i wonder do the hair follicles or pores get blocked with sweat and sun screen and cause a rash. It's a mystery to me. 

Possibly medication related but my medications have been more or less the same for many years, just different doses. I just don't know. So every year I end up on a steroid cream.

So I have tried various brands of sunscreen factor 50 + for sensitive skin and skin prone to allergies with limited success.

I tried an anti histamine, certizine, but only took it when I was away and wonder if I took it before the trip would it help. I started taking it yesterday. I am going to Sardinia on 31st Aug. 

I also purchased diphenhydramine/ benadryl online as it is not available here. I was told it would help with the skin rash and itchiness and would help me sleep. I find it difficult to sleep in very warm temperatures, especially with an itchy stinging rash to deal with!

But now I'm wondering will it make me sleepy during the day. Would a once daily dose at night be alright?

Also do you think that that taking 2 antihistamines is too much. I'm at my wits end trying to find an answer to this annoying problem and would try anything to be honest.

I would really appreciate some feedback and would love to hear if you have any ideas or tips to prevent this.

Thanks SO much!!

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If the antihistamines don't help, it could be photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet rays, and can be exacerbated by chemicals in skin products, and by some medications that change your body temperature. 

http://www.healthline.com/health/photosensitivity?showSwoop=true&utm_expid=.bq4wAkkBSjeddGcB8ufP1w.1&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.au%2F#Prevention7

This article tells you about it. I have it, and its a real pain in the behind, but I don't like sun anyways, so I don't have much problem avoiding it. 

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3 hours ago, Hopelessly Broken said:

If the antihistamines don't help, it could be photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet rays, and can be exacerbated by chemicals in skin products, and by some medications that change your body temperature. 

http://www.healthline.com/health/photosensitivity?showSwoop=true&utm_expid=.bq4wAkkBSjeddGcB8ufP1w.1&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.au%2F#Prevention7

This article tells you about it. I have it, and its a real pain in the behind, but I don't like sun anyways, so I don't have much problem avoiding it. 

Thanks for the link. It's a good article and explains a lot. 

It still doesn't explain why my arms are the only part of my body to be affected.

 Actually, now that i think of it i am only affected from my elbow down to my wrist, where I have the most hair. 

ETA: I love the sun. We get so little warm sunshine here in Ireland. We had some high temperatures and sunny days this year which is a rarity. So it is important for me to go on holidays and enjoy the sun and this is a nuisance.

Edited by rowan77

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Hmm. Do your clothes cover up everything but your arms? I usually get the reaction on my neck and arms because my clothes don't cover them. Not saying it isn't something else, but that's usually what happens to me.

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No. I would be wearing my swimsuit or vest and shorts

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I see. Well you can always just try the antihistamines. If they work, you know its not photosensitivity at least. Would be nice to know what allergy it is, if the antihistamines do work. Sorry I couldn't help more.

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45 minutes ago, Hopelessly Broken said:

I see. Well you can always just try the antihistamines. If they work, you know its not photosensitivity at least. Would be nice to know what allergy it is, if the antihistamines do work. Sorry I couldn't help more.

Don't be sorry! I really appreciate you replying. It's a tough one to figure out :)

I am really hoping that the antihistamines will help but I'm thinking I will just have to keep my arms covered for a lot of the time, except when I'm in the water.

The rest of my body is usually fine!

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5 hours ago, rowan77 said:

I also purchased diphenhydramine/ benadryl online as it is not available here. I was told it would help with the skin rash and itchiness and would help me sleep. I find it difficult to sleep in very warm temperatures, especially with an itchy stinging rash to deal with!

But now I'm wondering will it make me sleepy during the day. Would a once daily dose at night be alright?

Also do you think that that taking 2 antihistamines is too much.

Whether the Benadryl will help or not depends on the person.  It helps some people, not others.  It doesn't help me with allergies.  But it will make me sleepy.  So if you take it ... Personally I would take it at night.  For me the sleepiness ... it makes me tired but I took at night and after the first couple nights I wasn't tired.  I think if you take it at night, my guess is that you won't feel tired in the morning.  I've taken it and the sleepy side effect and after a couple days it goes away.  I'm not sure about the dosage.  I usually take the liquid form and take the dose on the bottle.

Also, Idk why you have the sun problems on your skin.  A dermatologist might know.

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48 minutes ago, melissaw72 said:

Whether the Benadryl will help or not depends on the person.  It helps some people, not others.  It doesn't help me with allergies.  But it will make me sleepy.  So if you take it ... Personally I would take it at night.  For me the sleepiness ... it makes me tired but I took at night and after the first couple nights I wasn't tired.  I think if you take it at night, my guess is that you won't feel tired in the morning.  I've taken it and the sleepy side effect and after a couple days it goes away.  I'm not sure about the dosage.  I usually take the liquid form and take the dose on the bottle.

Also, Idk why you have the sun problems on your skin.  A dermatologist might know.

Thanks Melissa. I do have bouts of insomnia even at home so hopefully it will help with that.

Because this skin problem only raises it's ugly head when I am in the sun abroad it probably doesn't warrant a trip to a dermatologist. The waiting list would be very long. However I will mention it to my GP when I see her later on in the week and see what she has to say. 

We have had very high temperatures in Ireland (for Irish weather I should add) in June this year. We usually don't go above 21/22 C  (70 F) but in June we hit 27-29 C (84 F) I sat out in the sun and was out as much as possible and I didn't get that rash on my arms at all. 

I don't know what's going but I am thinking of restricting the amount of sun I will allow my arms to be exposed to as I can't think of anything else.

Truly, it could be worse........

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Maybe the sun is stronger where you go on vacation?  I remember being in St. Thomas and the sun was so strong there, much stronger than what we have here in the summers. 

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1 hour ago, melissaw72 said:

Maybe the sun is stronger where you go on vacation?  I remember being in St. Thomas and the sun was so strong there, much stronger than what we have here in the summers. 

Yes, I think that is probably the case Melissa

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57 minutes ago, BlurredBoundaries said:

I think it's called polymorphic light eruption? 

http://patient.info/health/polymorphic-light-eruption-leaflet

I wonder, do you think you may have any immune deficiencies?

Yes I was reading about that and I think there is a strong possibility that that is what I have. The mystery still remains as to why my arms are the only part of my body that gets affected despite my legs, upper arms, shoulders, neck and face also being exposed to the sun.

I don't know if I have any immune deficiencies. I never had a reason to think I had. Must look into it..

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I hope I didn't scare you by asking that cause obviously I'm not a  Dr, and you most likely don't have a immune system disorder but sometimes medications can make you immune compromised . It was just a two second Google search that made me ask. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about but just an inconvenience more than anything. 

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58 minutes ago, BlurredBoundaries said:

I hope I didn't scare you by asking that cause obviously I'm not a  Dr, and you most likely don't have a immune system disorder but sometimes medications can make you immune compromised . It was just a two second Google search that made me ask. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about but just an inconvenience more than anything. 

Ah no, you didn't scare me at all!! I'm always looking up symptoms on the Internet 😀

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replying to the initial post, it is ok to take 2 antihistamines even at the same time, it is not uncommon at all

however I will advise to get levocetirizine as your antihistamine a newer solution that has helped more people

Quote

But now I'm wondering will it make me sleepy during the day. Would a once daily dose at night be alright?

No it won't be alright, if you take it at 2300 hrs you won't get the same effect next afternoon. Antihistamines are fast acting and should be taken before the exposure to allergens and not the night before. Benadryl is more drowsy than 3rd gen levocetirizine and has less antihistamine effect, however even if you use benadryl the drowsiness will subside after some days of use, its like if someone use atarax daily for sleep, after some nights the drowsiness will wear off.

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2 hours ago, condition said:

replying to the initial post, it is ok to take 2 antihistamines even at the same time, it is not uncommon at all

however I will advise to get levocetirizine as your antihistamine a newer solution that has helped more people

No it won't be alright, if you take it at 2300 hrs you won't get the same effect next afternoon. Antihistamines are fast acting and should be taken before the exposure to allergens and not the night before. Benadryl is more drowsy than 3rd gen levocetirizine and has less antihistamine effect, however even if you use benadryl the drowsiness will subside after some days of use, its like if someone use atarax daily for sleep, after some nights the drowsiness will wear off.

I think for all you've written, not everyone reacts the same to a med/s.  So I'd say YMMV.  I highly doubt these side effects of an antihistamine will happen to everyone who takes it.  I'd be careful with suggesting to take 2 of the antihistamines.  Most likely only some can tolerate 2 of them.  Others might only need one for it to work.

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Believe it or not, it is theoretically possible to be allergic to the sun in a sense, and there was actually a summer camp in the area where I grew up that was specifically for people with this condition.  All of the activities were at night.  However, it's an incredibly rare condition.  Even though being allergic to the sun is very rare, you should get it examined because there are many things that you could be allergic to (medications, foods, sunscreen, etc.) and it's important you are able to avoid whatever is causing the problem because allergies can become serious over the course of time.    

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Being of northern european descent and from Canada I can so understand your itchiness.  I've gotten much better over the years but for the longest time I would develop sun hives/heat rash on my arms, stomach, legs, hands, feet and neck.  I would be an itching irritable mess on summer vacation.  I took benadryl (anti-allergy med in Canada/US) and experienced some relief. I also got hydrocortizone cream for skin that didn't heal well after I had a flair up that worked.

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