Getting a tan or a sunburn is a normal reaction to being out in the sun, but some skin disorders make your skin react abnormally to sun exposure. One of these skin disorders is actinic prurigo. Here are four things you need to know about it.
What are the signs of actinic prurigo?
Generally actinic prurigo starts in childhood and affects areas that are exposed to sunlight. After being in the sun, sufferers develop itchy red bumps. Prolonged scratching leads to bleeding, scabbing, and eventually thickening of the affected skin.
In addition to these skin symptoms, people with actinic prurigo also develop lip and eye symptoms. Nearly 85% of people also present with cheilitis, an inflammation of the lips, while between 45% and 62% of patients present with conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the white of the eye.
What causes this disorder?
The cause of this disorder is still unknown, but it's considered an autoimmune disease. The antigen that triggers the inflammation hasn't been identified yet, but the current theory is that a protein within your epidermis, the top layer of your skin, is transformed by exposure to the sun and becomes an antigen.
The disorder is also suspected to have a genetic link. Researchers are still looking for the specific gene that causes the disorder.
What complications can it cause?
Since this condition leads to itching, one of the possible complications is secondary infections. To minimize the risk of getting a skin infection, make sure to wash your hands before scratching your lesions, and if you break the skin, wash the area thoroughly and apply a bandage to protect it while it heals.
Irritant contact dermatitis is another possible complication. This is an itchy skin disease that manifests as dry, flaking skin. It occurs when your skin is irritated by chemicals, and in the case of people with actinic prurigo, sunscreens are usually to blame.
Can it be managed?
This condition is chronic and hard to control. Your dermatologist may recommend lifestyle changes like moving to a lower altitude or a region that receives less sun exposure. Wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen can also help protect your skin from the sun.
Avoiding the sun isn't enough to treat actinic prurigo, so medications may also be needed to control your symptoms. Your dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroid creams to help ease the inflammation and itching of your lesions. Other medications like antihistamines, antimalarials, and immunosuppressants can also be used to control this disorder.
If you think you have actinic prurigo, see a dermatologist right away. Companies like Advanced Dermatology Care may be able to meet your needs in this area.