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Sun Days to Sick Days

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I would like to share a little bit of my private life this week. I don’t usually share my health information for all the world to see and know. But I have been thinking that maybe some of my readers are struggling with some of the same issues I have daily. If I can let one reader know they are not alone in this long journey, I have set out to do what I intended to do by being an open book.

So let’s go back several years ago. Back when I was a lot younger, and my kiddos were home. We spent lots of hours at pools, lakes, rivers, and beaches. I love the great outdoors. I would take my kids swimming every day if I could, all day long. Being very careful to make sure they had the best sunblock on for the water and being out in the sun all day. I would make sure to rub them down from head to toe every couple of hours so they would not burn. I would put sunblock on when we first went out there and maybe or maybe not one more time later. Boy, I was nice and tanned from all the hours outdoor I spent on weekends. Little did I know I was laying the road down for a lifetime of misery from the one thing I loved the most—the sun.

I did this for many years. Not only did we swim a lot, I worked outside a lot. Like I said before, I just love the great outdoors. Then it happened one day after being out in the sun with my kids and swimming. I started getting hives. I was covered from head to toe with hives. I even had them on my scalp and ears. I looked horrible.

Along with those hives, I felt very sick to my stomach and had the worst headache ever. Of course, I headed indoors as fast as I could. Thinking maybe for some strange reason, I reacted to the sunblock or something in the water. I was lost on what was going on. It took me almost a week of staying indoors with not much light for the hives to go away and to start feeling better.

I decided to give it another try. I took the kids swimming, and the same thing started happening again within the hour. So, we left immediately. I headed straight to the doctor. She took one look at me and said, “you are allergic to the sun.” I will never forget those words, and I how felt. I was put on an antihistamine daily, a daily steroid cream, and a daily sunblock throughout the day. I did this for many years and would deal with the side effects if I had to be outside for an extra-long time for my kids.

Then as the years passed, I started staying covered in hives under my clothes, on my scalp, on my hands and feet. I went back to the doctor. The dermatologist did a skin biopsy of my hives. He came back and said, your lifestyle must change. You are very allergic to the sun and ultraviolet rays, and you also have Lupus.

You could have heard a pin drop as I sat there and let the news totally sink in. He said, I will work on your skin; you will be going to a Rheumatologist to work on the autoimmune disease. He noted, first, you will be taking antihistamine twice daily and one for the stomach you take daily to help from the inside out. You will be doing steroid cream twice a day. I want you in sun protection clothing, curtains that block the sun out, and daily sunblock a couple of times a day, head to toe. You will need big hats, as well. So if you are dealing with anything like this, you might think about doing more after dark, if you can. Also, remember this means light bulbs can do the same to you as the sun can do. Along with all this, I went on steroids by mouth daily.

They call my condition Solar Urticaria. Solar Urticaria, also known as sun allergy, is a rare allergy to sunlight that causes hives to form on skin exposed to the sun. The itchy, reddish spots or welts usually appear within minutes of sun exposure. They can last for a short time or up to hours. The cause of Solar Urticaria is not known. The allergy may become chronic, but the symptoms can be treated.

I then got a better handle on my condition. My skin in the last year does not look as horrible as it once did. Remember, if you see me around and notice I have strange hives or sores, I am not contagious or anything. I’m just allergic to the sun.

If you have any comments or questions you would like to share on allergies to the sun or maybe just our simple life, email me at