A portrait of woman with long ponytail under the sun.

Vampires aren’t the only creatures averse to sunlight. But unlike Edward Cullen, those unfortunate enough to suffer from a sun allergy don’t just endure a conspicuous sparkle. They usually deal with worse skin problems ranging from a to blisters.

So, what is a sun allergy? If you have it, are you doomed to avoid the and be housebound during daylight? This article answers the basic questions you may have about skin photosensitivity. If you suspect you have this condition, consult with a specialist immediately.

What Causes a Sun Allergy?

According to dermatopathologist Riza Milante, FPDS, DDSP-PDS, ICDP-UEMS, a sun allergy is not an official diagnosis but rather a broad, colloquial term to describe reactions to sun exposure. “Often, it refers to solar urticaria or polymorphous light eruptions (PMLE),” she explains.

Solar urticaria is a that causes those afflicted to break out in a rash, welts, or hives. Other symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation, redness, and swelling. PMLEs typically exhibit the same signs but are triggered by sudden contact with sunlight after a period of reduced exposure. For example, an influx of PMLEs usually occurs during the spring – after the relative darkness of winter.

Most “sun allergies” can be inconvenient, even debilitating, and may require careful maintenance, but they are hardly life-threatening. However, extreme sensitivities can be dangerous. Take, for example, Bella Thorne’s character in the 2018 film Midnight Sun. She has xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that impedes the body’s ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet light. XP patients usually battle skin and eye abnormalities and face a higher chance of certain cancers.

A sun allergy can be a condition in itself, such as the ones mentioned above. However, it can also be a side effect of medication (oral isotretinoin and topical retinoids, among others), chemicals you apply on the skin (triclosan and certain fragrances), and other skin diseases, like lupus, says Dr. Milante.

Can You Treat a Sun Allergy?

Dr. Milante adds: if you suspect photosensitivity, work with your doctor to figure out the root of the issue. Treating the cause will likely solve the sun allergy problem. Another curative option is UVA (Ultraviolet A) radiation hardening, wherein the skin is incrementally exposed to light to make it more resistant.

According to a 2018 study in the , early exposure to sunlight – such as when you were a kid – could reduce the likelihood of photosensitivity.

Dr. Milante also advises precautions, such as avoiding triggers and diligence when it comes to .

“Use a with high SPF to protect the skin from ,” she suggests – advice that is useful to everyone, with or without a sun allergy.

For your face, try POND'S UV Bright Sunscreen. It’s lightweight with zero white cast, leaving you free to go about your usual beauty routine. Its SPF 50 PA++++ gives you the defense you need against harmful rays while Gluta-Niacinamide works simultaneously to combat sun damage on your skin. Another option is POND'S UV Hydrate Sunscreen, which has Hyaluron that hydrates your skin and gives it a despite the effects of the sun. Either will help you gain that not unlike the vampires of the Stephenie Meyer variety.

Coat your body with a lightweight sunblock if you’re going about the daily grind and something a bit sturdier if you know you’re going to be outdoors. Don’t neglect your lips and scalp, too. Find a as well as a lip balm with SPF that works for you and add those to your must-have skincare products. Other preventative measures include wearing sun-protective apparel, such as hats, sunglasses, pants, and long-sleeved clothing.

A sun allergy can be a nuisance, but you can handle it, girl. Consult with your dermatologist for a proper maintenance plan, and you can bask in the sun once again!