JUN 20, 2017 7:54 AM PDT

It's Not Vampirism, It's a Sun Allergy

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Sunlight is vital to life on Earth. For humans, sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm and metabolic processes, such as vitamin D synthesis. But for some people, exposure to the sun's rays actually trigger severe allergic reactions.

Indeed, for people with a condition known as polymorphic light eruption (PLE), the sun's rays cause a rather uncomfortable, itchy, prickly rash on the skin. Moreover, instead of a healthy bronzed glow, the sun causes the sufferer's skin to turn blotchy and red. So far, there are more questions than answers about this condition. But scientists do know that this immune response affects more women than men, and that the skin on the chest and trunk are most commonly affected. And the condition isn't as rare as you may think - around 10 percent of the population suffer from this sun-related allergy.

Rather than a rash, another type of sun allergy causes hives on skin exposed to the sun. This condition is known as solar urticaria. Sufferers develop itchy hives that can turn into welts. And the welts can lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, this condition is much rarer, and can be treated with antihistamines.

Watch the video to learn more weird ways the body can react to the sun's light.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 09, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 09, 2020
Origami for Science - How Paper-Folding Inspires Spacecraft Landing Tech
Imagine an egg fall to the ground at a counter height spot: at the moment of landing, compression, the pushing force, cr ...
APR 16, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 16, 2020
Scientists Discover Evidence of Ancient Rainforest in Antarctica
Back in 2017, Dr. Johann Klages and his team were going about their usual business of drilling into the seafloor to extr ...
APR 20, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 20, 2020
Deepwater Horizon: 10 Years Later
Today marks the tenth year since the Deepwater Horizon disaster—the most massive accidental offshore oil spill eve ...
MAY 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 19, 2020
The Science Behind Eclipses
A particularly convenient coincidence exists between the relative sizes of the Sun and the Moon, and their distance from ...
MAY 26, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 26, 2020
"Green Snow" Expected to Increase in Antarctica
When Antarctica comes to mind, the imagery probably includes a vast, frozen, and barren landscape. However, red and gree ...
MAY 28, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 28, 2020
Expandable Resin Solves the Size Problem of 3D Printing
One of the current limitations of using a 3D printer is the size of the product. For someone to print a large part, they ...
Loading Comments...