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What Is Photodermatosis?

Sunlight causes photodermatosis in some people.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Photodermatosis refers to an abnormal reaction of the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, particularly ultra violet (UV) rays. Prolonged exposure to sunlight and other factors can put certain individuals more at risk than others. Symptoms can include skin rashes, swelling, and blisters. This condition can be caused by a number of things, including skin disorders and allergies. Treatment for this condition will typically vary, depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

Negative skin reactions will often occur in people who are suffering from photodermatosis. This reaction is caused by an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet light rays produced by the sun. While people suffering from this will typically only have a reaction when in the sun, in some severe cases, skin reactions may occur in certain types of artificial light as well.

Although it can not usually be predicted who will develop symptoms of photodermatosis, some individuals are more at risk than others. People with light eyes, skin, and hair, for example, are often more at risk than those with a darker complexion. Also, individuals who spend a good deal of time in the sun may become more prone to developing photodermatosis.

Symptoms of this disorder can range from mild to severe. These can include such things as skin rashes, hives, and blisters. Redness, swelling, and itching are also not uncommon. Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, may also occur in some individuals.

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Photodermatosis can be a chronic or acute problem. This means that it can happen gradually and for a long time, or suddenly and for only a short time. Whether this is a chronic or acute problem often depends on the cause of the problem.

Chronic photodermatosis is often caused by certain medical disorders and illnesses. Bloom syndrome, for example, is a genetic disorder in which individuals are born with numerous broken blood vessels on their faces. These individuals often suffer from a light sensitivity. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, may also cause individuals to become very sensitive to sunlight. This sensitivity can also be caused by certain skin disorders, such as psoriasis or rosacea.

Acute photodermatosis also can have a variety of causes. Certain fragrances or dyes that can be found in any number of skin care products can make the skin more sensitive. Some medications may also cause these problems in some individuals. Examples of these include antidepressants, antibiotics, and chemotherapy agents.

Treating any chronic illnesses may help keep chronic photodermatosis under control, while eliminating agents that can cause skin sensitivity can help get rid of acute photodermatosis. Desensitization is also used for some individuals. This involves exposing small areas of skin to UV rays a little at a time. Eventually, the skin should build up a tolerance. Wearing a strong sun block and protective clothing can also help when going out in the sun. Also, individuals with this sensitivity should avoid the sun at certain times of the day when the rays are the strongest, usually from late morning to late afternoon.

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