Photoallergic Reaction

During our last day in Coron, I developed rashes in my face, arms, and chest. I immediately thought that it was my skin asthma flaring up, considering that I have been exposed to a lot of sunlight in the past few days.

When I woke up the next day, my chest area near my neck had a humongous red splotch that was so itchy and hot at the same time. My ears were also red and itchy, and my face was full of rashes. My arms had tiny bumps all over. I looked worse than ever, so I knew I had to see the doctor immediately.

According to the dermatologist, I suffered Photoallergic Reaction.

Photoallergic reaction: An allergic reaction caused by drugs in which ultraviolet exposure changes the structure of the drug so that it is seen by the body’s immune system as an invader. The allergic response causes inflammation of the skin in the sun-exposed areas. These usually resemble eczema and are generally long-lasting. Many drugs in this family are topical drugs. Individuals with photoallergic reactions may initially complain of itching (pruritus). This is then followed by redness and possibly swelling and eruption of the involved area. Common photoallergic drugs include some sunscreens, antimicrobials, painkillers, chemotherapy drugs, and fragrances.

Apparently, the sun block that I used had a component that was altered by the UV rays of the sun, and turns out that I was allergic to it, whatever it was.

I used Nivea Sunscreen with SPF 50, something that I often use whenever I go out to swim. This time, I used the spray version, not the lotion. I was shocked to learn that it caused my allergies, because I have used it a lot of times before but perhaps the spray version has different (or additional) components that I wasn’t aware of.

Funny thing is that I didn’t get any rashes on those parts that were soaked in the water the whole time. Only the parts that had direct contact with sunlight were the ones that got affected.

My dermatologist gave me two creams to be applied topically, and now the redness has disappeared but still itchy. I’m not allowed to eat seafood (as if I eat seafood!) and chicken (sad) just yet.

I spent three days in paradise, and now I’ve been spending the last four days scratching and scratching all the itch.

I guess you really can’t get everything. There’s always a catch. :)


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