Allergies affect millions of people worldwide with symptoms of itchiness, burning and skin rash. And we all know that sunlight exposure can produce the same symptoms of itchiness, burning and skin rash and so we ask the obvious question, are we allergic to sunshine?
Let’s look at the mechanics here. The sun produces both visible light spread out in a spectrum of colours from red to violet and beyond that there is an invisible and very real spectrum below red, called infra red and above violet called ultra violet. All of this spectrum affects us although in different ways.
The invisible infra red is received by the skin cells and turned into the sensation of warmth, visible light is received by cells in the retina of the eye and turned into visible light and ultra violet is received by skin cells and turned into vitamin D Sunshine Organics.
And of course you can have too much of a good thing so too much sunlight can produce sun burn with painful blisters and peeling especially in folks with sensitive skin.
Sunburn is overindulgence in the sun. It is overdoing things which we can expect to lead to trouble but a sun allergy or photosensitivity is different. Like an allergy it is an exaggerated response and a response to something we regard as harmless. And like an allergy it can be triggered by a small dose – in this case of sunshine. This exaggerated response is called photosensitivity.
Whether photosensitivity is a result of metabolic disorders or an effect really caused by environmental factors and only triggered by the sun is not clear. There is a confusing maze of terminology to navigate by anyone wishing to find out more.
Certainly we can say that some people do get symptoms that look and feel like an allergy when exposed to even small amounts of sunshine. We can also say that some experts regard sunshine allergy as a kind of delayed allergic reaction, which is a different process to the usual IgE mediated process of a conventional allergy.
People with such concerns need some expert help. A dermatologist is an obvious person to consult but I would also advice an expert nutritionist or naturopath. The skin is our largest organ and like any other organ needs a range of nutrients for its own health and optimal functioning. Adding extra anti-inflammatory nutrients to your existing diet and perhaps optimising your diet for better skin health may well be all that is needed. And all of us with sensitive skin can benefit by removing personal care products with irritating ingredients – after all the less stress our skin has to bear the better it can do its job and the better it can look too.