Health A-Z

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Prevention

To help prevent symptoms of a sun allergy, you must protect your skin from exposure to sunlight. Try the following suggestions:

  • Before you go outdoors apply a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or above, with a broad spectrum of protection against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays.

  • Use a sunblock on your lips. Choose a product that has been formulated especially for the lips, with an SPF of 20 or more.

  • Limit your time outdoors when the sun is at its peak — in most parts of the continental United States, from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Wear sunglasses with ultraviolet light protection.

  • Wear long pants, a shirt with long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim.

  • Be aware of skin care products and medicines that may trigger a photoallergic eruption. These include certain antibiotics and oral birth control pills, as well as prescription medicines that are used to treat psychiatric illness, high blood pressure and heart failure. If you are taking a prescription medication, and you normally spend a great deal of time outdoors, ask your doctor whether you should take any special precautions to avoid sun exposure while you are on the drug.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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