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Natalie asked...

Tags: sun

Hi, I got sunburnt on my arms on Wednesday last week and Thursday evening. I came out in an itchy rash around the sunburn areas. I spoke to the pharmacist who thought it was a reaction to the sun causing hives. I was given strong antihistamines, a cooling spray and aloe vera. In addition I have taken paracetamol and ibuprofen. The rash has become worse and is extremely itchy and tingly. I have also had a headache, am tired and my neck is sore (which I put down to tiredness and stress). The rash has spread to my hands, stomach and legs - can hives caused by sun do this? I'm 30 years old and had measles and chickenpox as a child. My mother does recall me having a reaction to the sun when I was around 5. Thanks, Natalie

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The Answer

Hives, otherwise known as urticaria  is an itchy, red blotchy rash in the skin.  This blotchy rash produces distinctive weal’s on the skin  that can appear in specific areas or all over the body.  In about 50 percent of urticaria cases we do not know what causes this  rash.  The triggers for this rash results in the skin  becoming red and swollen and there is a release of histamine from mast cells,  which gives rise to the itching sensation felt in  the skin.  Urticaria can be due to immunological factors such as allergies that  can trigger the release of this histamine, but there can also be non-immunological causes and these include: solar rays and the heat that you have mentioned.  Also the cold, physical pressure and even exercise can trigger an urticarial rash.

Urticaria can present itself in an acute and chronic form, but also in an intermittent presentation.    Acute urticaria generally subsides within 48hrs and chronic urticaria persists for more than six weeks.  We are unable to diagnose  your condition and therefore we would suggest a review with your general practitioner.  

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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