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Classification & external resources
ICD-10 L57.8
ICD-9 692.79
DiseasesDB 24609
MeSH D010787

Photodermatitis, or sometimes called by the nonscientific term sun poisoning, is a reaction of the skin to UV rays of the sun, or photoallergy. It may be caused by a medication that makes the skin more sensitive, a skin product (e.g. sunscreen containing PABA, certain fragrances), autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or a vitamin deficiency. Doctors can determine the presence of the disorder through a photo test.

Additional recommended knowledge



Many medications cause sun sensitivity, including:

  • psoralens, coal tars, photo-active dyes (eosin, acridine orange)
  • musk ambrette, methylcoumarin, lemon oil (may be present in fragrances)
  • PABA (found in sunscreens)
  • salicylanilide (found in industrial cleaners)
  • Hexachlorophene (found in some Rx antibacterial soaps)
  • Contact with sap from Giant Hogweed. Common Rue (Ruta graveolins) is another phototoxic plant commonly found in gardens.
  • Tetracycline antibiotics
  • NSAIDs.
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotic: Sparfloxacin in 2% of cases.


May result in swelling, a burning sensation, a red itchy rash sometimes resembling small blisters, and peeling of the skin. Nausea may also occur.


Prevention includes avoiding exposure to the sun:

  • Stay inside during the brightest hours of the day, from noon to 3 p.m.
  • Cover up: wear long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat whenever harsh exposure is probable. Remember that cloud cover does not provide protection from UV rays.[citation needed]
  • Avoid chemicals that may trigger a reaction (do not, however, stop taking medication without consulting a doctor).
  • Wear sunscreen[1] at least factor 30 with a high UVA protection level.
  • If the symptoms are severe, see a doctor.

Foods and treatment

The following foods or treatment may also help:


  1. ^ AAD - The Sun and Your Skin, "Allergic Reactions" section
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Photodermatitis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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