Itchy rash after being in the sun

Dear Ask The Doctor:
My mother has been having a problem out in the sun for the past three summers. If we are in the sun a lot while on vacation she will break out once the sun goes down. She gets tiny red bumps from her elbows to her wrists and from her knees to her ankles. It is extremely itchy and she only seems to get relief when a cold compress is applied to it. She never breaks out at home (we live in WV) and it gets worse the further south we go. Do you have any idea what this could be? Is there anything she can do to prevent it or get relief form it? Thanks for any information! Kelsey

A:   The breakouts on the exposed parts of your mother’s skin seems to be a sun rash, that can be prevented by avoiding direct sunlight when it is most intense around midday and early afternoon. It is important to keep in the shade and to wear appropriate clothing, eg sun hats, sunglasses with proper UV protection and clothing material that doesn’t allow the sun through easily. The only remedy is to use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 25 and higher. Avoid scratching the itchy areas and you may apply hydrocortisone for the relief of itching.


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