Playa del Carmen Tulum Coolibar

How I Travel the World with a Sun Allergy (and How You Can, Too)

When the temperatures rise and the weather turns towards summer, you can hear the collective rejoicing. Gone are the long dark days of winter, replaced by the long, warm, sunny days of summer!

Sun-filled beach photos and sunny adventures clog the social media feeds of my family, friends, and fellow travel bloggers. 🙂

Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Unfortunately, I’m not exactly running to bask in the sun’s rays.

Don’t get me wrong. The beach eye candy is gorgeous.

The problem is, I have a sun allergy, or photosensitivity if you want to be technical about it.

Talk about a major bummer, right!?!

I’ve always had fair, sensitive skin with the potential to lobster on the beach. I also travel with my own toiletries because I’d rather not take chances with perfumey hotel shampoos, soaps, and lotions.

But, everything took a turn for the worse a couple of years ago when I had a horrendous allergic reaction to hair dye. To be clear, I’d highlighted my hair a bunch of times without issue, so wasn’t worried when I chose to cover up some early-onset gray hair.

Playa del Carmen Mexico
Who would have guessed an episode at the hair salon would have spoiled this?!

What followed were blistered, burned, and weeping ears and scalp, a swollen, painful neck, and a body covered in itchy rash and hives. I was treated by an allergist and thought the worst was behind me as long as I stayed away from hair dyes with the toxic chemical PPD. That is until the rash returned once I’d finished the prescription from my allergist.

Several skin biopsies later, a couple of dermatologists diagnosed me with a rare auto-immune disease which includes the condition of photosensitivity. I never had any sign of a sun allergy or reoccurring rash before getting my hair dyed. Apparently, my reaction was so severe it had “woken up” something lying dormant in my system.

While it’s not PMLE, the condition is in the same photosensitivity ballpark. Basically, I need to stay out of the sun or suffer the consequences of a widespread, super uncomfortable rash that’ll take weeks to fade away.

How I Travel the World with a Sun Allergy (and How You Can, too!)
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How I Travel the World with a Sun Allergy
(and How You Can, Too!)

Regardless of my sun allergy, I’m determined to travel. Yes, Mr. TGT and I used to travel to the Caribbean more, but I’ve certainly not given up on traveling to hot and sunny destinations.

Playa del Carmen Mexico

In fact, I was motivated to write this post because of my most recent travels to Mexico and Costa Rica. The combination of products below allowed me to enjoy myself mentally in a way that I haven’t experienced in the sun for quite a while.

I’ve tested a variety of products and found the ones that work best for me. The list is short, but one I’ll continue to grow. My hope is that you, too, can benefit and feel comfortable traveling the world while managing your sun allergy.

Sunscreen

If you have a sun allergy, you know you can’t just use any sunscreen. Since most sun allergy conditions are reacting to the sun’s UVA & UVB rays, you’ll need a sunscreen that’ll protect against both.

Clinique Super City Block Ultra Protection SPF 40


Lightweight and slightly tinted, City Block is perfect for everyday wear. I wear it as a primer underneath my makeup every day in every season whether I’m exploring the Romanian countryside, dogsledding in Finnish Lapland, or walking around my NYC neighborhood. It’s a great first step to protecting your face from the sun at the start of each new day.

La Roche Posay Anthelios 60 Body & Face Sunscreen Melt-In Milk Lotion


This is one of my tried and true sunscreens. It has the best combination of UVA/UVB protection in a non-greasy lotion and absorbs really quickly into my skin. I don’t have that gross-I’m-wearing-a-bucket-of-sunscreen feeling! But instead, love how soft and light it feels on my skin! I never leave home without a bottle of this lotion in my bag.

Piz Buin Allergy Lotion for Sun-Sensitive Skin SPF 50+


The other powerhouse sunscreen I trust will protect my sun-exposed skin. The lotion is a bit thicker than some others I’ve tried, but the others aren’t packed in my suitcase or my beach bag. Piz Buin gets a spot in my bag because the protection is amazing! In fact, I’ve put a dollop of Piz Buin on a section of not-properly-protected skin and that all too familiar sizzle sensation stops in its tracks.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 100+

This sunscreen came highly recommended by several readers who also have sun-intolerant skin. It’s waterproof and feels so light it won’t leave you feeling sticky or greasy.

Lastly, for anyone looking for all-natural ingredients or needs a reef-friendly sunscreen option, Alba Botanicals SPF 45 is a great option. It’s biodegradable with minerals that moisturize your skin while protecting you from the sun.

Sun-Protective Clothing

This was a fairly recent step for me. It’s one thing to be under a tent-like umbrella on the beach with sunscreen looking semi beach-sloppy in an oversized shirt.

But, sun-protective clothing conjures up images of turtlenecks on the beach and prudish Victorian-era clothing.

In all seriousness, though, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I did some research and found brands doing a fashionably awesome job for anyone needing sun-protective clothing.

To be clear, I’m referring to UPF clothing with UVA and UVB protection built directly into the fabric.

Coolibar & Mott 50

Playa del Carmen Tulum Coolibar
A quick moment without my sunhat, but wearing my Coolibar Swim Shirt. I can admire the ocean and Mayan ruins in Tulum.

There are several clothing brands that make UVF clothes. However, I love the look, cut, and feel of Coolibar and Mott 50. These 2 brands sell all types of UVF clothing, including swimwear, sundresses, tops, and bottoms. Their clothes have a lifetime guarantee to protect against the sun. Even better is how stylish the clothes look!

This long-sleeved, lightweight dress is so cozy.

Sure, most people are wearing a typical bathing suit on the beach, but now I just look like a sporty diver with my UVF swim tunic instead of someone in a mish-mosh outfit to cover up.

Even better, I can actually move out of the shade to enjoy a walk or swim. In a sunny destination, UVF clothing has given me back my freedom and peace of mind.

Of course, the beach isn’t the only place where I need sun protection. I actually am more of a mountain girl than a beach girl! 😉 So, for hiking or active outdoor wear, I love Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Shade clothing.

ProTip: Check Sierra Trading Post for closeout deals! The inventory is based on what’s available at the time, so it’s worth checking often to save money on UPF clothing.

Sun Protection Zone Outdoor Booney Hat (100 SPF/UPF 50+)

The nearly 5″ brim shades my face, neck and upper chest, and shoulder area. I never thought I’d proclaim my love for a chin strap, but here I am!  I can be active without having to constantly keep the hat from blowing off my head. It lies flat in my bag and can even be folded in half.

The hat is incredibly durable, machine washable, and recommended by several melanoma foundations. I have it in white and light gray.

SHINYMOD UV Protection Arm Sleeves

If you’ve ever been in a car unable to escape the sun’s rays, you need these UV protection arm sleeves. Drive without worrying about having a reaction or breaking out in a rash. They’re also great for outdoor activities like running, hiking, cycling, and even gardening!

SlipIns Surfskins

Recommended swimwear by a reader about the same time I discovered them on Instagram, this company makes sun protection swimwear. Whether you need a full-body suit or just long sleeves or leggings, there are plenty of designs to help you stay protected while enjoying the ocean.

I’ve been happy with my UV swim leggings, but I definitely would like to give SlipIns a try.

Medicine, Vitamins & Prescription Creams

I’ve been so grateful for the readers who have shared their sun allergy stories and recommended what’s worked for them. In addition to any prescription creams, readers have had success with:

This is not meant to be taken as medical advice. I am not a doctor, nor am I saying these things will work for you. I’ve always found my doctor to be the best source for helping me with my condition. You should consult with your doctor to see what’s right for you.

I always pack my prescription steroid creams in my carry-on because I can’t take the chance they’d get lost in checked luggage.

A word of caution, though!

Be sure to bring the prescription-labeled box the cream came in or at the very least, just the prescription label.

Tubes of cream don’t have the benefit of the usual prescription bottle. Don’t assume a security airport agent will recognize your cream(s) as a prescription, particularly if you’re traveling internationally.

If your cream is over the allotted size for security, you may also want to transfer it to a travel-sized bottle to avoid begging (and showing past rash photos at airport security!) to keep your creams from being tossed.

The bottom line is if I can travel with my sun allergy, then so can you! With the right precautions and the help of some tried and true products, it’s more than possible to travel the world (even the sunniest spots!) with a sun allergy.

Do you have a sun allergy? What tips or products do you use to travel the world with a sun allergy?

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125 thoughts on “How I Travel the World with a Sun Allergy (and How You Can, Too)”

  1. I suddenly became allergic to the sun when I was 29. I was sunning myself in the Caribbean when I broke out in a rash all over my body. At first, I thought it was a burn, but the tiny, bumpy dots continued to spread for days. It took weeks to heal. But I won’t let it hold me back either. I really like Neutrogena SPF 110. I always try to have a kimono and hat close by, but sometimes it’s sooooo hot. Sitting in the shade is key, but I will likely still break out into a rash of some kind. I find if I take Benadryl and put a little hydrocortisone cream on it, it heals much more quickly.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Heather, thanks for reading and for sharing about your sun allergy. I personally haven’t had any effect taking antihistamines but my steroid creams do help to heal the rash or even stop it before it takes hold. Take a look at some sun protective clothing. My ruched swim shirt really helps to keep you cool and blocks UVA/UVB. #winwin 🙂

  2. This was an interesting read as I dont know anyone who has a sun allergy. Also love the advice on how to combat this as well. Great read.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Danik. I hope it helps anyone with a sun allergy that it is possible to travel!

  3. Wow, I didn’t even know this was something people suffer from! Great tips, it’s nice to know that sunscreen and clothing help protect you. I can’t imagine what this must be like to travel with, I have a hard enough time remembering sunscreen myself sometimes which is terrible! This is extremely helpful for anyone else who suffers from this condition and people should be protecting themselves from over exposure anyways!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Megan. Yes, it’s something you have to certainly manage, but it’s more than doable. 🙂

  4. I’m so sorry to read about your allergy but happy you have found ways to enjoy yourself in spite of it.
    I love the LaRoche products with Anthelios. And suncreen built into wardrobe is also an excellent choice

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Penny. The UPF clothing was a big step, but one that has been really amazing for peace of mind and freedom. 🙂

  5. I’ve always been curious about clothes that have UVA and UVB protection built directly into the fabric. You certaintly look fashionable, but does it still breeze? Do you feel as cool as if you were wearing something with short sleeves for example?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      The fabric varies from garment to garment, Annie. But the white swim shirt in the photo was sporty and made from a moisture-wicking active wear-type fabric. Personally, I didn’t feel hot wearing it at all, but I do run on the cool side.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      It’s most certainly a thing, Mags…unfortunately! Hopefully, the upside is younger looking skin when I’m older! 😉

  6. I have a mild photosensitivity due to some meds I take, but yours seems much more serious. I’m glad to hear you’ve found ways to work with it, rather than give up altogether. Where there’s a will, I suppose. I’ll be checking out UPF clothing right away. Travel on!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Definitely take a look at the UPF clothing, Peter. It’s so great to be outside and not have to worry. 🙂

  7. Oh wow! Didn’t know about sun allergies. I suffer from headaches when I go out in extreme heat. These tips will surely help. Haven’t tried the clinique sunscreen yet. Will it work for combination skin? A lot of sunscreens make my skin break out which narrows down my choices.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I’m sure the Clinique would work for all skin types, Shruti. It’s very lightweight.

  8. Wow, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. I’m not familiar with photosensitivity but we do have other auto-immune health challenges we deal with in our family. So I know how important it is to find something that works. So glad you’re still traveling!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Tami. Yeah, it’s not fun but luckily it’s manageable. Hope your family auto-immune challenges haven’t stopped your travels either! 😉

  9. Skin allergies are the worst! I have skin allergies to various lotions, soaps, shampoos and detergents. Like you, I bring all my own products that I know don’t give me rashes and hives. I use reusable travel bottles and just fill them up at home before each trip.

    I sleep in long sleeve shirts and pants at hotels to avoid any issues with detergents. I find detergents that a hotel may use to clean towels and linens is the most challenging part. I’m always sure to carry allergy meds with me just in case I do have a reaction and break out in hives.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      The worst is right, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing your story and tips. My reusable travel bottles are a must!

    2. Hi. My husband has sun allergies. He brakes out into bumps and itchy rash in the sun. What products work for you?

    3. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Kim, and sorry to hear about your husband. The Piz Buin and the La Roche Posay sunscreen, as well as the UPF clothes are the things that work the best for me. Hope they can help him, too!

  10. I have lupus – is that what you have? – and I’ve been very nervous about how it will affect my travels. Thanks so much for writing this and showing me that it’s very possible!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Ava,
      Thanks so much for reading. I don’t have Lupus (as far as I know). I have Lymphocytic Infiltrate of Jessner. Doctors aren’t sure if it’s its own condition or if it falls in the Lupus ballpark, so to speak. Blood tests don’t show Lupus right now, though. It is more than possible to travel with a sun allergy. I have to be covered up with the proper gear or sunscreen but I don’t let that stop me and neither should you! Keep traveling! 🙂

  11. I can relate 1000%! My story is too long to write about, but I have autoimmune issues as well as photosensitivity. And my reactions to the sun is exactly the same as yours and for some odd reason the older we are; the longer it takes to heal. I was diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria. And some medications i take don’t agree with exposure to the sun & oh boy! Xxxxxtra sunburn very quickly. My first experience was a honeymoon trip 30 yrs ago to the islands being very close to the equator line. I’m an ethnic person with fair skin, but nevertheless I burned & blistered badly that warranted a trip to the ER. Right! The pain, burning, soreness, itching, peeling & scarring is a bad dream. My story is actually a book but I’m just saying, I totally agree with your story & understand. Fun in the SUN is no joke! Best wishes & thanks for your inspiration to not let this stop anyone from enjoying Life.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Maydra, thanks so much for reading and sharing your story. I was nodding my head and saying yes as I read it! I’m so sorry you have to deal with this, but as you said, it should absolutely not stop anyone from enjoying life. 🙂 Keep on keeping on!

  12. I am African American with a sun allergy & I travel with the same experiences mentioned above. May God Bless you all & Don’t stop living life to the fullest Outside! Use the precautionary measures needed & Enjoy life! Sometimes I feel like the odd woman out, but, I just think about the blessing it is to be able to manage the allergy so that I can still enjoy the beauty in Sunshine! I wear sun sensitive clothes when outside in the sun for extended periods of time, especially in the spring, summer & early fall Sun! I use sunscreens on the exposed skin that isn’t covered, also! I like the pure zinc cream sold at Wal-Mart! Make sure it is applied so it doesn’t leave a white fillm though? I never travel without taking a tube of hydricortizone cream either! That was a $25 lesson I learned at a resort in the Dominican Republic!? Thanks for this article & encouragement to travel the World!!?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi, Theresa and thanks so much for reading! Your positive vibes come right through your words. I know all about feeling like the odd woman out but what else can we do? Not get out there and live? Never. Thanks for your inspiration, too!! 🙂

  13. I have solar urticaria. Had it for 7 years now. I break out in painful miserable hives with in 20 to 30 seconds of sun exposure. For a while, I didn’t know how to vacation. I have a son who is five years old and I worried that I wasn’t going to be able to go to his baseball games or take them to the beach. But I am just like you and refused to stay hibernating inside my house. I have an amazing “dork hat” that I got from Coolibar, and I also wanted to share a swim company with you…. I have tried every UPF swimwear known to man, but they always became a little bit see-through and if they were white, it did not help me at all. My friend introduced me to a company called Slipins surfskins they are amazing. You should check it out! Anyways best of luck to you, I’m glad you aren’t letting your sun allergy drag you down

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Chase, and sorry to hear about your solar urticaria. I’ve got 2 of those “dork hats” so I know how you feel. Thanks for the tip on the swimwear company. I’ll give them a look. Here’s to not hibernating and enjoying life no matter what! 😉

    2. Hi Jackie! I also suffer from solar uticaria. It started for me a few months after the birth of my son 7 years ago. I was wondering how you manage footwear in the spring and summer. My feet and ankles get it the worst bc they may have too thin a layer or just happen to be slightly exposed. Do you wear special socks and have you found any light comfortable protective footwear?
      I’d love to hear about any other tips you’ve discovered along the way.

    3. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading and sorry to hear about your solar uticaria. The feet and ankles are tough. I’ve had many an outbreak on the tops of my feet, in particular. Aside from trying my best to keep them in the shade, I apply sunscreen like Piz Buin sun allergy or La Roche Posay Anti-helios, but I’ve also invested in summery shoes like Toms and other closed toe espadrille type shoes. It’s not full proof but it’s better than a flip-flop or other sandal. Good luck!

  14. I have fairly severe, systemic solar urticaria – UVA based, flu like symptoms along with the rash after about 30 seconds exposure. Not great at travel yet but this was definitely encouraging! Would love to learn more about any tips you have! I use a lot of maxi dresses and I love the Under Armor heat gear. I also love my parasols, head scarves, and hats!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Hadley, Thanks so much for reading and I’m so sorry to hear how sensitive you are to UVA! 30 seconds is tough! I don’t get flu-like symptoms but I can have a rash for weeks/months with the wrong exposure. For me, it was a matter of getting over how I looked all covered up when everyone else was in shorts and tank tops. When I finally got swim leggings and a long sleeve swim shirt, for example, I was so nervous to go out in public, but then I had an amazing time snorkeling. I hadn’t felt that happy (carefree) in years in the water. I’ll be writing more about my experiences so I hope you’ll be following along. 🙂

  15. I have been dealing with a sun allergy for over ten years. I get the worse break outs while driving. I bought driving sleeves to protect my arms. They work great for gardening too. You can get a prescription from a doctor to have tints put on car windows. Neutrogena 100+ has worked the best, along with Benadryl. Sun protective clothing is too expensive. I find sunscreen is the key to living with this. But, you must not be lazy. Just take that minute and apply it! Otherwise, you will ruin your summer or vacation.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Christine. It sounds like you have a system for managing the sun. It’s not easy that’s for sure! Thanks for the tip about tinting your car windows. Living in NYC, I don’t drive often and didn’t realize that could be done so thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    2. Thank you for writing this. Im always looking for new tips. I’ve found most people don’t even know a sun allergy is possible. I’m an African American woman with photosensitivity. My husband is in the military and we’re scheduled to move to New Mexico in a few months(from cloudy/rainy England). I’m worried about my sun allergy as they are the state with the second most sun shiny days?. Usually I try to stay in the shade but having a young daughter who likes to play outside this isn’t always possible. I’m sure some of your tips will come in handy. I’m definitely going to look into the hat and a new sunscreen.

  16. Hey thank you zoo much for sharing your experiences esp d uv clothing info and hat is very helpful for d beach which I thought could not accomplish ..thanks once again

  17. Hey, thanks so much for this article, it helped me a lot. I have been suffering from PLE for almost 15 years now. I got it when I was 15 it was horrible for a few years as I couldn’t understand what it is, in the end one of the best dermatologist of my town was able to diagnose my problem. Things got better after that as I started talking all the precautions necessary. Though after that I moved from my hometown to a beachside place where winter wasn’t a season and it had sun all year round. I thought my problem is going to escalate, however that did not happen and magically I got rid my sensitivity. so the gist is I did not see the symptoms of my PLE when I lived in all year round beachside hot places but recently I moved to Ohio and I got all my symptoms back with swelling around my lips. So basically I am not gonna get rid of this problem I’ll just have to be careful. I just wanted to share my problem with someone who understands what I am going through because most of the people don’t even believe you when you tell them you have sun sensitivity untill they see the clear signs of it. It’s comforting to see that there are ways by which you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about your sensitivity. Thanks so much:)

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Rhy, and for reading. From what I’ve read about PLE, it does seem to affect more people in northern climates when they’re exposed to sun, but it seems totally amazing that you were able to live in a beachside place without symptoms. But, I do have to say for me, it’s similar in that sometimes I can have just a little sun exposure and have rashes everywhere and then others just a small patch. It seems very unpredictable. And, I totally understand. When I first started wearing my SPF leggings and long-sleeved tunic to the beach, people look at you so strangely. But I wasn’t going to miss out on playing with my nieces and nephews or traveling to places with sun. When I wore my sun protective clothing to snorkel in Costa Rica for the first time, I just remember thinking how happy I was that my skin felt great and I was out in the sun enjoying the water. It was so freeing! Keep on enjoying the outdoors and I hope you have symptom-free/worry-free summer! 🙂

    2. Well symptom free summer didn’t happen? but it was better this year because of your article. It gives so much peace and satisfaction when I read this blog. Thanks so much for all the help. I mean it?

    3. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Appreciate those kind words, Rhy. Glad to hear the summer was better. 🙂

  18. Can you tell me what the toxic chemical, PPD , in hair dyes is? I’ve developed what I think is a sun allergy too recently and have recently had highlights added to my hair. Before going to the doctor, I’m trying to figure this all out. Right now I don’t even have to be in the direct sunlight to get a rash, tingly sensations downs my arms and legs, feel suddenly dehydrated and disoriented, and etc… Last night I was sitting in the shade watching my sons baseball game and my eyes became swollen and watered non stop , rash came, tingly all over, became weak and nauseous… all out of the blue. I was getting warm as it was in the 80’s but had a cool Frog Togg around my neck. I had to take 2 Benedryl to get the reaction to ease up. I’d love to hear your insight on this before heading to the doctor on Monday. Any insight would be gratefully appreciated!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Janelle, and I’m so sorry to hear about your rash and reactions. PPD is the chemical and its full name is paraphenylenediamine or p-phenylenediamine. PTD is also in the same family and has a long name as well, toluene diamine. From what I’ve read, reactions to hair dye can happen up to 72 hours after getting your hair done. After my initial and horrible reaction, a dermatologist had to biopsy some of the rash that continued to happen (long past when you’d think an allergic reaction should last) and made the diagnosis that way. I don’t have to be in direct sunlight either, just even small bits of sun sometimes can cause a flair up. I’d also read the rest of the comments here. Other readers have left their experiences and I bet you can get info from this as well. Good luck!

  19. Just wondering what your condition is? My son is photosensitive too. He has actinic prurigo. We too find ways to enjoy vacation, ie, going to destinations that are open well into the evening, finding indoor stuff to do during the day, and avoiding the worst hours of 9am-3pm.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Kelly, and so sorry to hear about your son’s condition. Mine is lymphocytic infiltrate of Jessner. It’s super rare and, although I’m fair-skinned, never had the photosensitivity I have now until a massive hair dye reaction triggered it. I can’t speak highly enough about UPF clothing. Not only does it reduce/eliminate the amount of sunscreen/time out of the sun I need, it gives me such peace of mind. I’m no longer thinking did I miss a spot, should I apply more sunscreen, was that too much time outside on a sunny day, etc.. Thank you again for reading and commenting. Best wishes to your son and your family!

  20. Thank you so much for this post! I think my sun allergy started a few years ago, though I can’t remember the exact date. It eventually got so bad that at the end of the holiday, I barely had skin on the back of my legs anymore. It was all cracked and bleeding and kept ripping apart with every movement.

    I am currently sitting at the airport, about to go home after 13 months of travel. The first months were tough. I was incredibly itchy all the time. Cortison creme doesn’t seem to be much help but I’ve had great success with antihistamines. I use one that makes me sleepy in the evenings, because I know that if I lie awake for half the night because I am too itchy, it will get even worse the next day. That one, though, has helped me sleep well and wake up to skin that looks at least a little bit better.

    In the beginning, I constantly applied sunscreen and wore longsleeves and long skirts (I love long skirts because they are not too hot and still protect me from the sun). I passed through China and got some amazing lotion there that took away all itching and made my skin look better within one or two hours. I have now unfortunately used all of it.

    After about half a year, it got better. And for the past few months, I barely had problems at all. I know that regular sun allergies get better after sun exposure and it was a relief that it actually did.

    I think my condition is in no way as bad as yours, since I only get it on the legs. I hope you can still enjoy your travels!

    Calcium, by the way, is supposed to help. You need to start taking it daily and you need to start at least a month before sun exposure. It doesn’t completely protect you, but when I tried it before a holiday to Jordan, my skin was definitely better than usual. I think in studies about 50% found that their symptoms got better? Calcium is not harmful, so I think it is worth a shot.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Ilona. I’m familiar with itchy skin that just won’t quit. I’ve spent many a day and night with ice packs on my skin or taking a cold shower just to calm down the itch. Unfortunately, antihistamines don’t cut it for me but I should give calcium a try. Thanks for that tip! Keep on traveling and letting that allergy know you still run the show! 😉

    2. Dear Ilona,
      I’m also allergic to UVA and suffered from sun poisoning for over twenty years now. Do you happen to still remember the name of the lotion you got in China that’d helped the healing? Or perhaps an image of the bottle in a long shot? I’m Chinese, and always looking for new “miracle” lotion to help with the rashes. Thanks so much and God bless!

  21. I also have auto immune disease which makes me super allergic to sun. I wear UV proof clothes, sun gloves, arm sleeve and hats with extra cover for my face and neck. I also use UV proof umbrella sometimes. My car windows are full of those stick on sun visors. All the curtains are drawn in my house and blinds are closed at work. I can’t apply sun screen too well because my face is swollen with rashes from the sun. I am taking medication. I used to love travel, water activities and gardening but I can’t do it any more. I have to walk my dog after sun set. I dare not to travel now. Hopefully I will be able to soon when my doctor figures out the best medicine I should have to get better. I am glad you still have fun with sun allergy. I did learn something here from another comment that I might be able to get prescription from doctor to tint my car. I am going to check it out.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Annabel. I’m so sorry to hear how allergic you are to the sun. Everyone always thinks of the beach when it comes to sun protection, but driving can be just as bad if not worse. I use arm sleeves, too, or just wear a long sleeve UPF shirt while I’m driving. Obviously, you need to have your hand and arms in the right places to drive safely! I hope your doctor can help you find a solution and glad the comments helped. It’s one of the reasons I wrote the article. I was hoping people would share their experience and what has and hasn’t helped. 🙂

  22. I am a 45 years old darkskinned African American male from the Virginia area. My first reaction happened 16 years ago in Jamaica. The reaction is less severe now,but 30 minutes in the sun will trigger it. The reaction usually starts the night after the exposer, and includes the hives/blisters and swelling. My lips have the worst reaction and take the longest to heal. For my recent trip to Pensacola, I used the wide brim hat and sunscreen on my arms and back. Unfortunately, I did not apply any sunblock on my face, and the reflects from the sand, water, and pavement caused a reaction. Next time, I will try some of the sunblocks you suggested. Hopefully they will help extend my beach time beyond the 1 and 1/2 hours following sunset.

    Thank you for writing this post.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Vincent. I have a similar reaction in that the exposure happens and then the hives and blisters can start the next day. I love wearing the City Block sunscreen that Clinique makes. It’s tinted but ever so subtly and it can be matched to skin tone. My husband has even worn it with no one thinking it was makeup or anything. I wear it every day before my makeup and this way I know my skin is protected even when I’m wearing a hat or just walking around or in and out of places. I hope you’re able to get a few tips from the article to extend your beach time!

  23. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and recommendations! I’ve had sun sensitivity and eczema for most of my life but it wasn’t until a few months ago that it got worse and I find that even my tried and true methods don’t work anymore. Also when trying to make an appointment with a dermatologist, I find that I have to wait over three months to see someone so I’m desperate to find alterative solutions on my own. Your post gives me hope that I can enjoy life in the sun again and I’m excited to try your suggestions!
    Can I ask how your dr. came to your diagnosis and what kind of tests you took? I’ve had lots of skin biopsies in the past and blood tests and I’m assuming those are the ways they tested.
    Thanks again!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Michelle. It’s so frustrating to have to wait for a doctor! I’ve found that when my primary care doctor gets involved to refer me or his office calls directly, I can bypass the wait but maybe I’ve just been lucky. You’re absolutely right, they did skin biopsies and then bloodwork. The blood tests came because my diagnosis could be considered on the Lupus spectrum and the blood tests could show signs for Lupus, which thankfully were negative. I hope some of the suggestions here help. The UPF clothing has really been a game changer for me. I can be outside with less worry! Thanks again for reading and I hope you can find some solutions and relief. 🙂

  24. I suffered years without knowing why my skin would break out after exposure to the sun. Went to a few professional’s and nothing, so now loaded with this new information I’ve gathered and my own research I will again seek professional for the diagnosis for treatment.

    Thank You for all the tips and advice.

    V.S.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Verniece. I hope you’re able to find the answers you’re looking for. It definitely is a process. Good luck! 🙂

  25. Hi Jackie, I too have suffered for a number of years with sun allergy. I keep trying different things to help ease and get rid of the rash. After sun exposure I’ve used rosehip oil directly on my hive like bumps and the next day the rash had improved a great deal. It definitely helps to keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and then deeply moisturising the skin before being out in the sun. While this is no cure it does help minimise the symptoms. It would be great if some chemist or scientist out there could stumble across a cure!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Lydia. I haven’t tried rosehip oil before so I appreciate the tip. And, yes please! I wish a scientist would figure out a cure.

  26. Thank you for posting this blog Jackie. I just learned this summer that I have PMLE. I am still in the process of exploring what are the best treatment/prevention options that will work for me. I am a teacher and today we had an unexpected fire drill. Just hearing the alarm caused me to panic as it is a very sunny day. I know I have find some help. This blog gives me some measure of hope that others have found effective ways of at least managing this condition. I have always loved being outdoors and many of the activities I have enjoyed as part of my life style are outside activities. . The idea that I would be able to enjoy being outdoors again has been a source of a lot frustration, worry and some depression. I will keep trying some of the suggestions here. Again, I thank you for reaching out to other that suffer from this..

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Val, and I’m sorry to hear about your PMLE diagnosis. I know the feeling you described with the fire drill! I’ve had it during a Field Day and had to explain my way out of a station in direct sun! Your diagnosis doesn’t have to be an end to your outdoor lifestyle. The clothes you wear might end up being different or your preparation for heading outside might be a few more steps than you did before, but it’s absolutely possible to continue on living. I hope you find some of the ideas here useful and continue you on living your best life! 🙂

  27. It has been really great reading through the comments and realizing I’m the only one who can’t be in the sun. I have developed a form of lupus which means I can’t have any skin visible in the sun or I get spots on my face which can scar and I have uncomfortable lumps on my scalp all the time. It is especially hard in the Southern Hemisphere where the sun is much harsher. I found a clothing line by Solbari which had made a big difference to me but it was great to have other suggestions from you about sunscreen and clothing lines. I wear lots of sunscreen on any skin not covered by clothing but miss the sun and the beach and going outside during the day with the kids. I get very hot being covered up on hot days and very stressed when I am unexpectedly in the sun.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences with the sun and Lupus, Sarah. You are definitely not alone. Besides the comments you see, I’ve been emailed countless times by people who suffer from all kinds of sun ailments. I will have to check out Solbari. Thanks for the tip! Have you tried any of the Columbia Sportswear Omni-shade clothing? I find they keep me cool and have moisture-wicking which works great on hot, sunny days. I know the stress you mention about being in the sun. Sun-protective clothing has been the biggest game-changer for me and making a good amount of that stress go away. Thanks again for reading. 🙂

  28. Dear, Jackie
    My friend ( Ezrille ) and I ( Madison ) are doing a different perspective project at our school in NB Canada, and we have heard about you and your blog and how you travel the world with your sun allergy. The reason why we chose this project is because I myself have a sun allergy. This past summer I was diagnosed with my sun allergy so we were wondering if you would be willing to answer some questions to help us with our project .
    1.. how do you travel around the world with your sun allergy?
    2. what kind of sun allergy do you have?
    3.what do you do when your allergic reaction happens?
    4. what do you mainly wear in the sun?
    we appreciate this so much thank you for taking your time out of your day to read and reply to this email
    by, ezrille and maddie

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Maddie and Ezrille. I responded to your questions via email. 🙂

  29. I strongly urge anyone with autoimmune symptoms to visit a naturopathic doctor. They can help you find and heal the underlying cause of your problems, rather than write a prescription to mask the symptoms. I hope conventional doctors catch on to this someday!

    I have had chemical/fragrance sensitivities for years, but my tipping point was a severe sun rash during a trip to Bermuda. I love the beach…this was definitely not okay!!

    Long story short, I had been living with a semi-dormant case of lyme disease that was progressively eroding my immune system. (I was originally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which I’m convinced is just a fancy term for “we don’t know what’s wrong with you.”)

    Many of you have stated that you suddenly developed this sun allergy, travel with your own products, and have issues with hotel detergent/sheets. That is my story too! These are all signs of an over-taxed immune system, which can have many causes.

    The Alba line of sunscreen worked well for me when I was having issues. It has different active ingredients than other natural brands that I reacted to.

    Wishing you all good health and bright, sunny futures!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sharon. I’m sure your tips will come in handy for others. 🙂

  30. Thanks for sharing this! I first had my sun allergy in Mexico about four years ago and now after doing some research I have realised it’s PMLE. Ever since, it has come back periodically whenever I have gone on holidays. I have found the hotter and more intense the sun, the worse it has appeared. However, I went to Dubai last year and I had a few sun beds beforehand (I know they are sooo bad for you) and I didn’t get A rash over there. I think the problem occurs when you go from 0-100% sun; too much too soon, so may be worth considering slowly introducing yourself to the sun.

    I’m fairly new to figuring out what’s best for this and your tips about sun cream and clothing are very much appreciated! Especially as we plan to travel next year. Weirdly, my allergy also started after I found I was allergic to hair dye (PPD), which was actually kicked off by an allergic reaction to a henna tattoo. I’ve had problems ever since with my skin, especially my face. It will swell up even using aftersun!
    Thanks for the list of things you use to help combat it when travelling, I will definitely be looking into this. My go too is my steroid cream and antihistamines but that’s only after the rash has occurred, it’s great to see some tips on how to prevent it!

    One thing I will say though, I had it in Mexico and Egypt and both times the doctor at the hotel gave me an injection. To this day I don’t know what it was but I’m guessing it’s a steroid of some sort, but the rash cleared within days both times. Something to consider if you break out really badly 🙂 xx

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Chloe! Ugh, that horrible PPD! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that. I agree that desensitizing can help, although I’ve never done a sunbed. My flare-ups are worse in spring and early summer compared to late summer. Either way, I’m always trying to prevent new rashes so I hope some of these tips in the post and the comments help. Good luck this summer!! 🙂

  31. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog Jackie. It is reassuring to read that I’m not alone with suffering out in the sun, in fact, reading some of these comments and your own experience has made me realise I definitely don’t have it as bad as I could. I’ve never officially had it diagnosed but I’m pretty sure I have PMLE, I have all the symptoms of it and the genetics; fair skinned and live in the UK – not many opportunities to get out in the sun to ‘desensitize’. Unfortunately as soon as I go abroad, about 4 days in I break out in the most horrible red itchy rash that doesn’t go away. I just remember being in Greece, on a beach, sobbing my eye out to my boyfriend because I thought everyone was staring at me, my red blotchy legs and my pale skin – chances are they were looking at me because of the state I had got myself into!
    I found that very strong prescribed antihistamines helped in the past, thankfully the nurse I saw at the time suffered too and prescribed them on the spot. I haven’t gone back to get anymore as I worry that my new doctor surgery wont prescribe them as they wont know what it is or try to suggest it is something else. I also have found Eucerin Eucerin Sun Allergy Protect Sun Crème Gel SPF50 really helps too!
    I am definitely going to try and stock up on your supplement suggestions in the hopes it will stop me getting a horrible breakout whilst on holiday in LA in early June this year!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Hannah. You are definitely not alone! I have the same airport memory years ago when my hubby took an impromptu trip to St. Lucia. I was upset and icing my neck and chest area for some relief! Thanks for the tip on the Eucerin Sun Allergy creme. I do use Eucerin skin calming lotion and like it a lot for minor irritations or dry patches. Good luck on your trip to LA! 🙂

  32. Bjarkey Björnsdottir

    I am so happy I found your blog! I was googeling like crazy to try to find some tips for my itchy hives on my chest and upper arms. The sun just started to shine here in Norway and my body is not having it!

    Thank you and thanks to all the good comments in here I am off to buy rosehip oil, spf clothes and few new sunscreens (I am so sensitive and can’t use most of them as I have allergies for parabens and fragrances)
    Greetings from sunny Norway ?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I’m so glad the post will be helpful, Bjarkey. Appreciate you reading and hope to make it to Norway someday! Your country is gorgeous. 🙂

  33. Thank you for sharing your story it has been very useful. My problem is a bit different as I take a severe itch all over my body when I come home from a sun holiday and it normally lasts for up to 6 months. I have seen several specialists and none seem to know what is causing the itch, I am literally ripping my skin off.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Oh, Roisin, that is awful. I’m sorry to hear that and I hope you can find a solution. This guide is always getting more feedback from readers with sun allergies and sensitivities. Check back to see if anyone responds to your comment and has experienced the same thing. 🙂

  34. I too suffer from a sun allergy, but swelling of the face (and once my arm too) is another symptom I develop from exposure. It only started a couple of years ago, and as someone who has previously been one to lay out in the sun for hours on end, its been infuriating… Not only do I have to avoid the sun, but the discomfort and pain from it is horrible. So thank you for your post, and I will definitely be trying out some of the creams.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Abbie, and so sorry to hear about your sun allergy. I’m with you on the infuriating part. Sometimes my skin is so itchy I can barely stand it! Hope you find some suggestions for relief here in the guide or the comments.

  35. Thanks for sharing! I was diagnosed with my sun allergy when I was 23 years old and avoid traveling and outdoor activities. I want to travel with my husband for our ten year anniversary and will look into your suggestions. 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Katina. I know that feeling of wanting to avoid outdoor activities. I hope some of these suggestions help and you have great travels for your 10th anniversary. 🙂

  36. Thanks for the tip to get sunscreen that protects against UVA and UBV rays when you have a sun allergy. I think my daughter may be developing a sun allergy. I will find some sunscreen for her and have her visit a doctor to be tested for allergies. [LINK EDITED OUT]

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Larry. Sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope the tips in this guide help.

  37. Wow! I didn’t know other people suffered from this! I recently purchased the Piz Buin sunscreen and it’s been so great, thanks for the tip! Your article also inspired me to purchase more UPF clothing, totally feel freer to be out and about throughout the day. Thanks so much for sharing and being inspiring!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Noelle. I’m so glad to hear some of the tips are helping! I couldn’t agree with you more about feeling freer wearing UPF clothing. 🙂

  38. My little girl has also sun allergy but she loves the sea and pools, its very difficult cuz if she get exposed for more than 3 hours ( for kiddos 3 hours are nooooothing!) i have been visiting some dermatologyst and even when she put a lot of sun sceen on it never works perfectyly, im about to try the brand os swimsuit that you advice! al least its worth to try! thaaanks!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Mishelle. 🙂 Definitely a UPF swimsuit because then she can swim and be out without worrying about reapplying sunscreen.

  39. An interesting read, thank you so much! I’ve always been sensitive to the sun (fair-haired, blue-eyed and freckly) and the heat (I get migraines and feel dizzy). I was diagnosed with a type of rheumatism just over ten years ago and the medication made me photosensitive but then the diagnosis was changed to lupus. All this happened after moving to Spain from the UK (the north so not not quite as hot as the south but it’s a valley so it’s 35-45°C in summer), so daily life and travelling are not fun. I use ISDIN and La Roche Posay creams, plus hats, glasses, long sleeves, etc. I’m now looking into the special clothing as very often I get a heat rash (not to mention dizzy and really grumpy) from wearing long sleeves :/

    Anyway, just wanted to say a big thank you for the tips and I hope that you can keep travelling 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading and sharing your story, DaisyGirl. 🙂 Sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I totally get what you mean about getting overheated with regular long sleeve clothing. I really try to look for UPF clothing that’s made from fabrics that breathe and can actually keep you cool. Happy travels to you, as well!

  40. Patricia Harold

    Hello.
    Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea my sun allergy had a proper name. And it’s also great to see I am not alone. I live in Vancouver,Canada and our summers are not that intense, but it can get fairly warm. Every summer it’s a battle against the sun. It’s wonderful to see there are others out there who have the same challenge…and conuering it!

    Thank you for this list of sunscreens. I have tried Citrix and it’s worked for me. But they do not ship to Canada so if I want one quickly (instead of waiting to go to the American mailbox) I need back up.

    I love the Coolibar top I have, and I am getting more of their clothing and bandannas. I also have a Sige sunhat that I got from Amazon that covers the back of the neck.

    My family loves to take cruises, and have often asked me to go. Now I can feel I can travel to warmer climates in confidence!

    Thank you again.
    Trish

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Trish. I’m so glad you found the post and know you are definitely not alone! Thanks for the tip on Citrix. I’ll have to check out the brand. 🙂

  41. Hi, thank you for this. I’ve had the same condition since I was 4 years old. It only happened when I was in Mexico (where we vacationed). Then I got it in Canada (where I live) when I was 18. Possibly birth control related. It comes and goes. And I hadn’t had it for some time after I had my first son (no more birth control!) but suddenly it’s back. And with no rhyme or reason. Thanks for your tips! It’s nice to hear from someone else who suffers but hasn’t lost the ability to travel, which is what I fear. How much calcium do you take?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Mandy, and sorry to hear that your sun sensitivity has returned! Right now, I just take a multi-vitamin and get the calcium from there. I know other readers have had success with this and have talked about it in the comments of the post. 🙂

  42. Thank you for sharing all this information! I am photosensitive due to lupus. This is all new to me and still dealing with just the fact I havent been able to work because of severe illness. I have become a shut in due to my photosensitivity. My husband and I will be taking a vacation, first in 10 years! But instead of being excited I fear the looks and raised eyebrows to my having to cover myself from head to toe….this information is so helpful in making me feel more at ease! Blessings to you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Magui. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I can so relate to how you’re feeling about having to cover up from head to toe. I do it all the time and I know people are thinking, doesn’t she know it’s summer!? But, it’s actually when I feel the most worry-free because I’m not thinking about sunscreen and reapplying, etc. Positive thoughts and vibes to you on your first vacation in 10 years!! You deserve it so enjoy! 🙂

  43. Doctor diagonised me with ple .. I lost some skin pigment it doesnt look good.
    I hope i shall get it back.. any idea for those..

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, pjk. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. What I have done for myself is listed in the article, as well as tips from others who have a range of sun sensitivity issues. Beyond this, I can’t offer any medical advice.

  44. Thanks for all the tips, I have lupus and with it photosensitivity. I think I had it for years before being diagnosed. Then one summer the lesions and rashes started. The sun continues to be my main source of flares. With the medication I no longer seem to get the rashes but I burn through some clothing or get very tired and my joints get sore after being outside. Luckily, I live in a colder climate and only have a few months of “summer” but I always look forward to fall and winter when others have to cover up too!
    your tips with brands of clothing and sunscreen are very appreciated, I’m always leery to try some products as many are expensive and still don’t work so it’s nice to hear from people who have used the products! I don’t personally know anyone else with photosensitivity so many people don’t understand how big of a struggle it truly is.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Michelle, and so sorry to hear you have photosensitivity, too. You’re so right that many people don’t understand. And I can totally relate to the sun being the biggest source of flares and my skin just feeling good when fall and winter come around. I hope you get some benefit from the things mentioned in the article and best wishes to you! 🙂

  45. Beverley Taylor

    After reading everyone’s comments. All seem to say they react to the sun. I react to daylight even on a cloudy day. My face burns itches has a rash and some swelling even after brief exposure. This all started 8 weeks ago beginning of December. I think it was triggered by a fragranced air freshener squirting on my face. But can’t be absolutely certain. At the advice of an allergy nurse specialist I upped my cetirizine to 40 mg and phenergan 25 daily for a week. And used soft white paraffin. And betnovate ointment But the only relief is not going out. I’ve tried different sun screens my latest is the Piz Buin allergy one but nervous of trying anything now.I had a brief episode of this 8 years ago which quickly resolved with antihistamines and steroid cream. Fortunately I have a dermatologist appointment in 3 weeks. Feeling very down about it, as even winter is a problem for me.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Beverley. I’m so sorry to hear about your skin. I hope it resolves like it did last time. And as for the air freshener, I don’t doubt it. My sun and skin issues began with hair dye which is continually proclaimed as safe when I know firsthand it isn’t.

  46. Great suggestions on clothing!!

    I started getting UV rashes (along with chronic hives and migraines) about 15 years ago after my babies were born.

    When I’m first exposed to UV rays after a long Minnesota winter, I use Heliocare capsules, Shirudo Agr+E lotion, along with a daily dose of Zyrtec to prevent a breakout. Also my favorite gentle sunscreen is ThinkSport. So far this regimen along with getting out of the sun the instant I start feeling a “tingle” has prevented all out breakouts. Also, by the end of the summer my skin tends to adjust to UV rays and doesn’t get rashy.

    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and have not been formally diagnosed with PMLE, mainly because it is mild, I have figured out for myself how to deal with it, and hate doctors.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Becca. I know that “tingle” oh so well! I’m going to take a look at Heliocare capsules. Thanks for the tips. I’m sure they’ll be helpful for others, too.

  47. I’m so glad I stumbled across this post! Thankyou so much for your tips and recommendations. I have some sort of photosensitivity where my arms, legs and chest get spotty and itchy when exposed to the sun, even though I use factor 50 Soltan Sensitive suncream. I will look into the La Roche Posay you recommend instead. My face is very dry and sensitive and I occasionally suffer with perioral dermatitis so can no longer use any steroid creams. A few years ago I discovered a Clinique face cream in a yellow tube with spf 30 which suits my face though it does leave a white cast and makes me look like a ghost! I think I’ll check out the city block.
    On another note, I patch tested a Loreal casting creme gloss semi permanent hair dye and had an awful reaction so avoided using it! Am looking for a more natural hair colour though am hesitant to use henna as have read its very messy and orange, can I ask if you have found a hair dye that suits you? Many thanks

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Emma. 🙂 I hope some of the recommendations in the article work for you. I use this hair dye. I will say that it works fine but I understand it’s a rinse and not going to give full coverage. But does it help? Absolutely! I don’t rinse out as much as the directions say and I can get a month of decent color. I also use the Loreal root touch up spray (light blue bottle in the drugstore) to hit some spots the dye didn’t full hide. So far so good with this combo, so I hope it’ll work for you, too. Thanks again for reading!

  48. I feel like you just told the story of my life. Five years ago after having my son I tried to dye my hair and it had a really bad reaction. Followed by sun exposure that causes blisters and hives all over my arms and chest. Being African-American I would have never thought that I would have a sun allergy but here I am. I have been trying the Coolibar light scarves and jackets, big sun hats and the Neutrogena 100+. I this works well for me normally but it could withhold the Florida heat. So thank you for this tips.
    Also I’m using Madison Reed hair color now. It works well although I do still has a slight reaction if I leave it too long. So I rinse it out 5 mins earlier then the recommended time. What hair dye are you currently using?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Kennisha. Ugh, I know exactly what you’re saying! I never thought I could have that happen from hair dye! Unfortunately, I can’t use Madison Reed. I patch tested it and I reacted. 🙁 The only dye I use now is actually this rinse. It doesn’t cover everything but it’s a lot better than nothing. Best wishes for managing in the sun and not letting it stop you!

  49. I think my allergy started about two years ago and its getting worse. I have rashes on my fingers, neck and arms. And most importantly i have developed spots on my nose and cheek. I have been to the dermatologist twice and I was recommended steroid for the rashes and hydroxyquinone for the spots on my face. The rashes has diminished and so was the spots but a day-long drive has flared up the spots on my face. I can also relate to the itch and swelling over whole body. Thankfully the itching has stopped and hopefully won’t be back. I will definitely try the creams you have suggested. I have been getting spots on my face with 5 mins of sunlight and flu like symptom and teary eyes. Does anyone have effective solution for the face spots?
    I hope I will be able to go outside in the sun other than the evenings soon.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Kasmita, and sorry to hear about your rashes getting worse. My rashes can sometimes flare-up in the car, too. I always wear UVA blocking sunglasses and gloves if driving. I also think a reader commented that you can get your car windows tinted even as a prescription from a doctor. I learned the hard way and got a rash on the tops of my hands after driving for a road trip. Luckily, I’ve only gotten a few small spots over the past few years on my face. My doctor prescribed a cream called Clobetasol. I used it very sparingly on these spots and other areas where my rash was really stubborn and itchy and awful and it helped. I hope with some of the suggestions in the article and comments you can find some relief!

  50. Thank you so much for all the advices! I never had a sun allergy until a few years ago, in my 30s, while traveling in a car in France in May which is not the hottest day of the season. At the end of the day I had a very bad rush, hives and swollen throat. Since then I’ve been cautious about being in a sun and it’s been ok. But this year (at a time of writing this) I have another sun allergy episode while being in Sardinia, although I spent most of the day under umbrella in my long sleeve shirt. Luckily I packed my antihistamines for in case. Weirdly it’s only upper body that was under layers of sun block and long sleeves, and nothing on the legs. I’ll try to find one of the sunblocks you recommend tomorrow Thank you so much for your advices! I very much hope that it’s temporary and can disappear over time.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Alla. I’m sorry to hear about your sun allergy and hope some of the tips in this post are helpful! Good luck!

  51. My husband found this post and shared it with me. My reactions started four months ago and I don’t have a proper diagnosis yet. But the rashes are excruciating. I’m looking for clothes to buy and ways to regain life. 2020 in quarantine is hard and not being able to escape into nature because of this skin issue makes it harder. Thank you for the hope.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Suzi. I’m sorry to hear about your rashes and I hope you can find some relief with the tips here and from so many in the comments who’ve also shared their story. Sending hopeful vibes your way! 🙂

  52. This is such a caring community and it is great to find fellow travelers who get it!

    I suffer from, what I consider to be, extreme heat rash. I live in a 4 season very dry climate. Traveling anywhere with humidity sends my skin into a frenzy of rash. I spent 4-5 days of our Thailand vacation in the hotel room with A/C. My husband lovingly and jokingly referred to me as a lizard. It was true;).

    It has made me very Leary to travel to hot humid places. Some things that I have read that have helped are to wash with salicylic acid(acne wash). This is probably not true with other rashes but with heat rash this really helps keep pores clear. I have super dry skin but it still helps. I also found prickly skin powder I. Thailand and bought a bunch. Don’t k ow what’s in it but it does cool and calm my skin.

    So sorry for all who suffer from this and other skin Issues.

    Cover up and travel on!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Emory. I hope you were able to get some ideas from this article and the comments left by other readers. And absolutely, Cover up and Travel On! 🙂

  53. Thank you so much for your article. I was searching for an article like this that would suggest some good sunscreens and I just got the piz buin. My father is Sicilian and for years, could be in the sun, but developed and allergy with bumps, itchiness that you describe, in his 40’s. My brother,sister and I spent so much time at the beach and were never bothered by anything and really did not burn, but tanned. All of us starting developing the skin allergy when we reached our 40’s to 50’s. I find my skin gets worse with being in salt water and sun. I refuse to not go to the beach, so now, just cover up more and am looking forward to trying your suggestions. I find it is interesting that we all are from the Mediterranean area and were constantly in the sun and all developed this “sun poisoning” as we referred to it, later in life. I also find that if I am careful and apply a lot of sunscreen the first few times of the season, I can avoid getting the bumpy, itchy red rash when I am in the sun after that. However, 2 years ago when I went to the Mexican Cancun area, I got the worst skin rash ever that took weeks to go away. Missed the sun last year, due to the pandemic, so I am interested in seeing how I do this year as I am fearful that it may get worse with aging….at least in my family.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Janice. And, I’m sorry to hear about your sun allergy! I hope you have some success with some of the suggestions mentioned either by me or in the comments from others. I’ve definitely heard from others who have to build up their early summer tolerance to UV rays and then it gets better as the summer goes on. Good luck this summer!!

  54. Dear Jackie,
    I’m so glad to have found your blog, thanks so much for sharing and for many others to share as well. I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ve suffered from photosensitivity for over twenty years, and spent countless hours in unbearable itching and pain after a day out in the sun. I live in Southern California and we have 350 days out of a year that’s sunny! Believe it or not, I’m recently starting to ask myself – why am I living in such a sunny place if I’m allergic to sun? where should I move to where I won’t suffer as much? haha. I also love to travel, and I’ve always “tried” to wear long sleeves and long pants/skirt and a big hat to shield myself from sun exposure, but I’m also a bit fashion-minded and didn’t want to look too horrible in my travel photos, so needless to say I ended up getting very burnt at the end of the day, and very much regretting my fashion choices! But somehow, with cortisone creme, aloe gel, and aveeno anti-itch lotion, I’ve survived countless breakouts. And the truth is I’m so used to living with such a condition, that I never bothered to even search for how others are dealing with the sun poisoning, until this evening!

    Recently, I’ve discovered something rather strange – even with sunblock and a heavy felt hat, I’m still getting rashes on my neck and my forehead, which wouldn’t have happened in the past. I’m starting to feel a bit paranoid about going out now. So I’m thinking perhaps I should see a dermatologist or allergist to get a proper diagnosis, and also get some uv protection clothes (hopefully fashionable enough ;), and a new hat with a string.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Jenn. So sorry to hear about your photosensitivity issues. I know what you are saying about UPF clothing. But I think it’s gotten a lot better over the years with more demand. Also, personally, I had a turning point. On a trip to Costa Rica, I desperately wanted to go snorkeling. So I just put on UPF swim leggings and a long-sleeved tunic and went for it. I hadn’t felt that “free” in a while…free from worrying how much time I was out in the sun, free from wondering how extensive a rash would pop up later on, etc. I’ve never looked back!

  55. Hello from a balmy real feel of 101degrees in Salem, MA today. I’m sorry for what you have to go through. But think it’s awesome that you won’t give up on what you love to do. I am fortunate that I only get a reaction on one are due to blood pressure medicine. I’ve been on it for years but just started getting the reaction 2 yrs ago. Unfortunately, it’s on my face. It’s been a week since it happened, and right now I want to scratch my face off lol. I’m still out of work due to covid. The beach has been my savior through these times. And I always sit in the shade. Which so far hasn’t been too much of issue. (Had to put up a gazebo last week is what did it). My question for you is that still being out of work has been financially crippling. Can you recommend a good inexpensive face sunscreen? Maybe generic? I hate to start buying them if they are no good.
    Thanks,
    Leigh

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Leigh. Ugh, that is so uncomfortable to get a reaction on your face! I am familiar with the “want to scratch my face off” sensation and it’s not fun. Sorry to hear about your hard times because of covid. I’ve heard some good things about Nivea Sun UV Face SPF 50 from a family member but I’ve never tried it. It’s considerably less expensive than the La Roche Posay Antihelios mentioned in this article, though. I hope you feel better soon! Thank you again for reading. 🙂

  56. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to find your blog. At 43 I have been experiencing painful burning redness and swelling (started 4 years ago) across my face and have been to countless number of doctors trying to find out what it is and how to live with it. I’ve heard everything from rosacea, to food allergies, to angieoedema, lupus, and hormonal changes but mostly told just deal with it. I went from being a hiking adventurer and beach babe, to a shut in.
    If you wouldn’t mind sharing, what was the autoimmune condition you were diagnosed with? I’d like to suggest it to another dermatologist I’m going to see soon. The struggle is real.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thank you for reading, Robin. I’m so sorry to hear about your skin struggles! My diagnosis was something called Lymphocytic Infiltrate of Jessner, which some doctors believe is in the same family as Lupus but I’ve never shown markers for that. It’s a rare autoimmune disease but the National Institute of Health has a paper on it if you Google it. My greatest weapon has been sun-protective clothing and hats, as well as sunscreen for my face. For me, it was triggered by a horrible reaction to hair dye. I hope this helps and you can find some answers!

  57. Happy to find others who can relate. I have sun reactions but to complicate things I am allergic to chemical sunscreens. Even many of the sensitive ones make me react. I can wear some mineral sunscreens but will still the reaction. For me, it is generally around my mouth- a puffy itchy rash. I can also get this with strong wind/cold too sometimes. I am olive skinned and always tanned easily, but suddenly when I was 17 I woke up in the middle of the night after a day at the beach and had blistering sun poisoning all around my mouth. I also developed rosacea around this time. Have also had peri-oral dermatitis and some other related issues. With non-chemical sunscreens I no longer blister, but the inevitable rash is frustrating and I get depressed and anxious each year as summer approaches. I was diagnosed finally via photo with photo-irritant dermatitis, but I believe there is more to it. Thanks for your tips- I didn’t know calcium could help and I have been taking it anyway lately. I also take Heliocare supplement recommended by my derm in the summer. Not sure it really helps but it can’t hurt.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Susanna. I’m so sorry to hear about your rash and sensitivity to sunscreens! I’ve gotten a rash sometimes around my mouth. Have you tried Neosporin? I’m not a doctor and have no medical background but it worked for me. I didn’t know about Heliocare. Thanks for sharing! I’m sure it will help others.

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