What Is Sun Sensitivity?

A sunburned man.
Certain ointments may cause sun sensitivity.
Sun sensitivity may cause a person to break out in hives.
Sunscreen, which can help with sun sensitivity.
A woman on birth control pills may experience photosensitivity, or a sensitivity to light.
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes sensitivity to sunlight.
Wearing cologne may cause sensitivity to the sun.
A topical cream can be applied to alleviate itchy skin.
Article Details
  • Written By: Desi C.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Sun sensitivity occurs when the skin is exposed to sunlight and becomes irritated. Sensitivity is evident by a number of different symptoms such as blisters, hives, an itchy skin rash, and sunburn. The occurrence of sun sensitivity is due to a variety of factors.

One of the more common causes of sun sensitivity is the initial exposure to high UV rays after a period of low UV exposure The development of sun burn is the result of the sensitivity to the sun's rays. Sun burn can cause itchy burning skin, small blisters, raised areas of skin, redness, and hotness to the skin. In more serious cases it can lead to more serious physical effects such as chills, headache and nausea.

Another common way in which sensitivity occurs is from the use of chemical solutions, such as skin lotion, cologne, perfume, sunscreen, and ointments. Antibiotic ointment or cream has been known to cause irritation in some users. Certain ingredients in some of these products can cause allergic reactions, with one or all of the symptoms being sensitivity to the sun.


Some prescription and over the counter drugs can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun's rays. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, both pain relievers with anti-inflammatory properties, are known to have various side effects, one which is increased sensitivity to the sun. Oral contraceptives and certain contraceptive devices can also be a cause of sensitivity to solar rays. Other over the counter drugs and prescriptions that can cause sensitivity include diuretics, psychiatric treatment medications, and antibiotics.

There are a number of health conditions that have been known to cause sensitivity to the sun. These conditions include psoriasis, dermatitis, lupus, and rosacea. If sun sensitivity occurs it is best to check with a health specialist or primary care physician to determine the best treatment.

Some foods and natural products can cause a person to experience sun sensitivity. The more common foods that are known to do so are parsnip, parsley, lime, and celery. The essential oils of lemon, lime, rosemary, and cedar are natural products that should be used with care.

In order to determine what is causing sun sensitivity it is necessary to visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can administer a photo-patch test to help pin point what the cause of the sensitivity is. It may take some time to figure out exactly what the culprit is, and it will likely require a process of elimination, in which one factor at a time is eliminated. At all times it is important to wear sunscreen and wear light colored clothing when exposed to the sun. Those who are in the sun for extended periods of time might consider treating laundry with some type of UV sun guard to block even more rays and help prevent sun sensitivity from occurring or reoccurring.


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