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Allergic to the sun

By ninemsn staff
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Air date: Monday, March 24, 2008
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Allergic to the sun

By ACA staff


As we saw on tonight’s show, in Perth - one of the hottest, sunniest cities in the world, Narelle Camarri suffers ‘sunshine syndrome’.

It’s one of the rarest skin disorders you can get – an extreme sensitivity to sunlight that can see sufferers break out in painful hives after just a few seconds in the sun.

For the first 28 years of her life, Narelle was normal and healthy and happy. And she adored the sun.

Then two years ago, when she was nine weeks pregnant with little Boston, something changed in Narelle's body. Doctors don't know the cause.

“It affects me every moment of every day - as long as the sun is up it affects what I can do where I can go how I can do it where I can work, everything.” Narelle says.

So what is ‘sunshine syndrome’?

  • Its real name is Solar Urticaria and is often called "hives". It refers to a skin eruption of raised intensely itchy and painful lumps across the skin after it has been exposed to sunlight.

  • It is not a true allergy. In sensitive people, sun exposure activates inflammatory cells or proteins in the skin, which triggers hives, according to Dr James Li of the Mayo Clinic.

  • Certain medications and conditions also can cause increased sensitivity of the skin to sun exposure (photosensitivity). But in such cases, reactions are usually red rashes, not hives.

  • If you have sun allergy, you can reduce your risk of a reaction by: Limiting your time in the sun and wearing sunglasses and protective clothing when you're outside.

  • Your doctor may also recommend the use of antihistamines to prevent or reduce a reaction. Using sunscreen may offer some protection. But sunscreens don't block out ultraviolet rays completely, so you may still experience a skin reaction.

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