Dossier: Home remedies

When the sun makes you itch

Summer is finally here! But not everyone can enjoy the sun’s rays. A sun allergy is particularly common among women, young people and fair-skinned people.

Text: Michael Suter; photo: Antony / Unsplash

In most cases it will be a sun allergy, also known as polymorphous light eruption. A few hours or days after exposure to the sun, the affected areas of the skin start to itch intensely and sometimes the skin feels like it is burning. Reddening of the skin, blisters or red spots appear – mainly on the arms and chest, less frequently on the face. 

If you get caught out and you experience these symptoms, one of the following home remedies may help: 

Aloe vera gel

Apply cooled aloe vera gel directly to the skin to ease the pain and itching. You can use the gel until the symptoms subside.

Milk and quark

Milk soothes the skin. For example, you can lay a cloth soaked in cold milk over the affected areas. Then clean the skin with cold water.

Quark from the fridge is also good for irritated skin.

Cold compress

Lay a cold compress on the affected area. It can ease the itching and rash.

Cucumber purée

Cucumbers are known to help with various skin complaints. Spread a cool cucumber purée on the affected area. This can help stop the rash from spreading and soothes the burning.

Black tea

Dip a compress in black tea (without added flavouring) and lay it on the affected area.

Prevention is better than cure

The best protection against the sun is to stay in the shade and wear long clothing or sun cream with a high light protection factor (30 to 50). You shouldn’t only avoid the sun around midday, but also whenever you wear perfume or scented cosmetics such as bergamot oil, because the ingredients combined with sunlight trigger a phototoxic reaction in some people. With some sun allergy sufferers, it helps to get used to the light through special light therapy (phototherapy) before sunbathing.

Expert tip

Dr Paola Maltagliati-Holzner, a dermatologist with Medgate

“Home remedies can ease the symptoms of a sun allergy. However, since there are other causes of skin reactions after sun exposure besides polymorphous light eruption, you should seek advice from your family doctor or a dermatologist.”