Sun Allergies in Children: What You Need to Know

Skin pigment is less developed when it comes to children and babies. Therefore, it's important to take a look at sun allergies and understand what this condition involves.
Sun Allergies in Children: What You Need to Know

Last update: 08 April, 2019

It’s common for children to suffer from sun allergies. These cause reddening, rash, itching and skin blisters. All of these consequences are very unpleasant and can appear just minutes before or after exposing skin to the sun.

Children and babies’ skin is much more delicate than that of adults. This is because the stratum corneum – the outermost layer of the epidermis – is thinner and, therefore, a less effective barrier against the sun.

As a result, it absorbs the sun’s rays much faster and allows them to reach the inner layers. So, it’s no surprise that there are more and more cases of sun allergies in children.

It’s true that children’s skin produces melanocytes – the cells that produce melanin. However, they aren’t completely developed. Therefore, their skin has less natural protection against the sun.

Children with light skin, red hair or freckles are even more prone to suffering sunburn or having skin allergies. This is because their skin produces less melanin.

Sun allergies in children: What do they involve?

Sun Allergies in Children: What You Need to Know

Sun allergies in children are a reaction to the ultraviolet light that appears shortly after sun exposure.

To avoid this type of reaction, you should take certain precautions and tips into account. And, of course, if you notice any allergic reactions to the sun in your child, you should see a specialist right away.

Furthermore, it’s important to know where the symptoms of a sun allergy are most likely to appear. Symptoms are most likely to appear around the neck, the back of a children’s hands, the outer surface of their arms, and the interior of their legs.

Just the same, it’s also important to note that sun allergies only occur in certain individuals that are already sensitive. And, in some cases, they can arise after the briefest exposure to the sun.

So, let’s take a look at the most common sun allergies in children.

The most common sun allergies in children

Below are the sun allergies that children are most likely to experience:

1. Photosensitivity

If your child presents a reaction like sunburn, swelling or intense itching after limited exposure to the sun, it may be a sign of photosensivity. As the name indicates, it involves high sensitivity to natural light.

This condition can also be detected in children that develop a rash or scabs in the area of the body where sun exposure occurred. In any case, it’s best to take your child to see a specialist as soon as possible.

2. Polymorphous light eruption

Polymorphous light eruption usually occurs one or two days after intense sun exposure. It can cause symptoms that range from small red dots to liquid-filled spots, eczema or even sores. The affected areas are usually the face, neck, arms, and hands that have been exposed.

In children, the condition usually begins as dry patches on the face with red spots and severe itching. The lesions usually disappear spontaneously after a few weeks, as long as there is no more exposure to the sun.

“Children with light skin, red hair or freckles are even more prone to suffering sunburn or having skin allergies. This is because their skin produces less melanin.”

3. Solar urticaria

Solar urticaria is characterized by itching and redness. In general, it appears approximately 30 minutes or less after exposure to the sun. After several hours, skin goes back to normal.

4. Photodermatitis

Sun Allergies in Children: What You Need to Know

Lastly, photodermatitis occurs when ultraviolet rays react with certain chemicals in the sun. These chemical products can come from common foods, such as carrots, parsley and celery.

Furthermore, the rash usually appears 24 hours after exposure and can take weeks or even months to cure completely. It may appear as an itchy rash, or even in the form of blisters.

Tips for protecting children from the sun

Below, we’ll provide a list of some tips for protecting your children from the sun. Take note and put them into practice!

  • Keep children out of direct contact with the sun. 
  • Children must remain sheltered from sunlight during its strongest hours. That is, from 11 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon.
  • Cover children’s skin with protective clothing.
  • Use a sunscreen product with a high SPF factor to protect their delicate skin.
  • Even on cloudy days, keep in mind that UV levels can still be high.
  • Apply an after-sun lotion after exposure in order to hydrate your children’s skin.

Finally, remember to maintain a healthy attitude regarding the amount of sun your child’s skin is exposed to. Also, use products that protect his or her skin from the sun. Both of these measures can help to avoid cases of skin allergy.

Don’t hesitate to take necessary measures and evaluate the symptoms that your child presents.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.