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Date of last update: 10/18/2017.

Forum Name: Dermatology Topics

Question: Extreme sunlight reaction

 Marsh - Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:06 pm

I will describe my symptom fully in hopes that I will get in touch with someone who experiences this same form of reaction to sunlight.

The painful reaction which I feel typically starts at around 24-36 hours after the sunburn occurs. I will explain the feeling soon shortly. It always occurs only on the areas of my body which do not typically get exposed to sunlight due to clothing. This includes primarily: upper back, chest, and shoulders.

(It does not occur in the areas of my body which are used to sunlight, including the arms, legs, and face - even if they are "white" upon burning.)

To describe the feeling of the pain exactly when it begins, it can be imagined as much comparable to the prick of a hot needle repeated in random areas, continuously jumping around from different nerves over the burn area. I basically feel one or two pricks somewhere on my back, and this tells me it is starting. They increase to the point of maximum imaginable irritation, with an annoying sting. The sting causes you to lose control; you virtually have to stimulate the area in some way to relieve the itch. This causes some form of theoretical relief for an instant, but the agitition then branches into other surrounding nerve areas. The prickling, stinging sensation intensifies, like there are more needles poking in more areas per second.

The agitation becomes in fact so extreme, that I litterally cannot resist from itching and triggering it to full extent. I almost break down and scream, and cannot even think about anything else. I am a male. It is more painful and agitating than any form of injury or pain I have ever experienced. I cannot sleep or even have a conversation. The utmost maximum on a scale of 1-10 as far as percieved pain.

It feels nothing like a bad sunburn; sunburn itself is the easy part. It is a reaction with the skin nerves apparently much different than most people experience.

I went to the emergency room last year in the middle of the night, and they gave me a pain pill for it, and could not provide me with a sun poisoning cream I wished for. I was upset by this form of treatment - as no practical pain pill can ease this form of emmense sensation. The doctor thought apparently I was overemphasizing a reaction to a simple sunburn.

The problem here is that there is no visable rash whatsoever. It looks simply like a sun burn while occuring. There are no blisters that I can see. Just red skin. The doctor said I did not have sun poisoning, as apparently he saw a simple sun burn.

I then consulted a doctor, and he prescribed Silver Sulphadiazene 1% cream I believe it was, common for burn victims I believe. This does nothing for the reaction. No over-the-counter creams could do anything for it.

I first experienced this around age 13 or so. I am 22 now. It begun occuring one year, and I had never experienced anything like it ever before, but continued ever since.

The reason I asked the ER doctor for sun poisoning lotion was due to one reason. At an earlier age, a friend's mother gave me a cream used for his sun poisoning he had. The cream made the nerves stop this erratic state completely. It was the only thing that had ever worked for my symptom. I had tried EVERY known over-the-counter cream.

She had thrown it out, and it is unknown what that prescription cream ever was...besides being prescribed for sun poisoning as she said. Could have been a number of things I imagine.

I guess the main thing I am hoping for by posting in such detail is that someone who experiences this exact same experience, can maybe give me suggestion on what cream can actually suppress what I am feeling so that I can discuss with a doctor/dermatologist.

I just came back from vacation and was accidentally burned, as the 50SPF sun lotion wore off a bit on my upper shoulders. It isn't bad, but I am in fear that once again the reaction is going to surface and create this extreme pain late tonight or in the morning.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:18 pm

User avatar I wonder if you have a sun allergy or auto-immune response problem (photo-sensitivity). I do not know of any cream like the one you describe. Seeing a dermatologist, family doctor or internal medicine physician would be advised.

While it seems likely other parts of the body would also be affected, these responses can be very strange and unpredictable at times. Some people find they have to schedule their life around the sun, doing things outside only after dark.

Call for emergency help immediately if you suddenly develop hives together with swelling around your eyes or lips, faintness or difficulty breathing or swallowing. These may be signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Good luck with this difficult problem.
 cyberduttin - Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:07 pm

Dear Marsh.. Please contact me.. I have the exact same reaction to sun and I am completely scared of the sun now.. I just ran a 10k race a few days ago and now im having a huge reaction and im freaking out. I would really like to know if you have ever found a solution because im 28 and I still suffer from it. I went to the ER also and they only put saline solution on my back and cooled it.. they gave me pain killers but then im out of commission for days trying to avoid the pain. I know this is an old post but if you are still around I would like to talk more. the way you described the pain is perfect and I am printing this out and taking it to my dermatologist so she can see that im not crazy. She too thinks im just being over dramatic.. I am a former state police officer, boxer, and football player... I have broken bones and kept playing.. but nothing compares to this.. It makes me literally nuts.. i used to just pop pills and sleep in the bath tub with scalding hot water until it stopped.. my wife thinks im crazy... please help.. suffering right now..
 jvanpool - Sat May 23, 2009 2:12 pm

I have almost the same symtoms but the rash occurs where the sunlight hits the skin and the rash is raised, very red and has a pus in them. I have tried a few steroid topicals and even valtrex and none of them have worked. When I first started getting the rash about 8 years ago a steroid shot seemed to get rid of it fairly quick but it doesnt work anymore either. I would like to know is there anything else out htere that may keep this in remission or to cure this.
 eblanken111761 - Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:46 pm

I used to lay out in the sun all the time and get burned then it turned to a tan. I did it all the time from 18 to about 32. Something then happened to me. I noticed that i would get nasuated and run a fever if i got a sunburn. I also noticed that i would get a brown spot on my forehead that looked like south america that would go away when i did not go out in the sun for a few days.
When my wife and i took the kids to miami, i was out in the sun for 2 hours and got sunburned. I was freezing and teeth chattering and i had a fever and when i stood up i felt nausuated. I stayed in bed for a day or two...
We took the kids to a water park last year. We were in the sun most of the day and we used sun screen. I sunburned anyway.....i was so scared and i should have been.. that night i got sick, and starting the next day...i started getting these little pin sticks that started and then more and more of them all over my skin and it came in was the most pain i had ever had in my life. i went to the dr and got a shot etc. I have had a broken ankle, spine surgery to replace disc, 3rd degree burn on my foot, This thing that came in waves was the worst pain of my life. My kids made fun of me and laughed because i was saying over and over i wanted to just die and i did at the time. I will never ever forget this pain and i will never ever get in the sun again..I rather have both my legs removed than to go through that pain again...and unless you have been there, you might laugh but i do understand...and if anyone else knows more info let me doctor said i had an alergice reaction...well i think that I cause my body to start rejecting too much sun...after all those years of tanning etc...if a dr reads this what do you think, could this of happened? over time that is? I finally saw that someone else had the same problems that i did...amen...finally ...mabye my wife and kids will stop making fun of me now.
 Dr.M.jagesh kamath - Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:07 am

User avatar Hello,Your condition ofcouse is not typical for sunburn of the common types.Here one has to think of other possiblities.
Porphyrias which are the conditions with photosensitivity and Heme of the red blood cells in our blood.
There is a condition called Acute Intermittent Porphyria in which photosensitivity is not directed to the skin but to other organs.
While the commonest manifestation is acute abdominal pain,it can present with neurologic symptoms including severe pain in the limbs.
Examination of urine during acute attack would show porphrins in the urine.
This has a family inheritence and though rare and unlikely still could be looked at since there are not many conditions which can evoke severe pain without a severe sunburn to associate.
Best wishes.
 Paragon - Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:27 am

I experienced a bad spell of sun rash on my chest and stomach a few days ago. I did not seek medical attention because I’ve had this before a couple of years ago and after numerous injections and medication nothing soothed the itching. I tried a lot of remedies (aloe vera, derma-creams, painkillers, allergy tablets and lotion etc.), but nothing seems to work. It has been 5 days that I have spent indoors and rash is still there (not as severe) and I am still itching a lot. On my quest in search of remedies and explanations I remembered that I took calcium and vitamin D tablets about a year ago and had the same intense itching. My pharmacist told me to switch to calcium and magnesium tablets, and that solved the itching problem.

So I just want to know if vitamin D and sun rash could be linked and if I am allergic to vitamin D instead of the sun as such?

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