Five skin conditions made worse by the sun

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Sunburn. Skin cancer. Wrinkles.

If I asked you to name three side effects of sun exposure, you most likely would have named the three I listed above. Sun exposure can wreak havoc on other skin conditions, though, making them much worse.


Today, we are taking a look at five skin conditions made worse by the sun. Some may surprise you.


Shingles is caused by the varicella virus (the one that causes chicken pox) and can be very painful, with side effects lingering for months. The virus leaves marks on the skin which are highly photosensitive, so exercising caution is important. Sun exposure can alter the color of healing skin, leading to lasting scars.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis is the most common form of pre-cancer on the skin. Signs of this condition include elevated, scaly and crusty bumps on the skin, particularly on exposed areas.  The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly sixty million people have this condition, which they believe is the earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma. These lesions are caused by the sun and repeated exposure will worsen them, making them even more dangerous.


We’ve talked about this one at length before. Sixteen million Americans have Rosacea, which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as flushing, soreness, persistent redness and pimples. Sun exposure is a known trigger for Rosacea flare ups, aggravating the most common side effects.


Known for its trademark butterfly rash, Lupus is actually an autoimmune disease characterized by red, scaly rashes found on the head, neck and scalp. Having more than a visible impact, Lupus can cause joint pain, fevers, loss of circulation and more. The sun can worsen rashes. In fact, people with Lupus are more likely to be sensitive to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, making them more susceptible to side effects. Doctors also believe that the sun can trigger an autoimmune response, which may ultimately magnify other symptoms of the disorder.


The late Michael Jackson was known to have this skin condition, which results in a loss of melanin in the skin. The cells ultimately die or fail to produce melanin, which is the pigment controlling hair, skin and eye color. When this happens, unusual white shapes and patches can appear on the skin. There is no cure for Vitiligo, but there are measures one can take to lessen its severity, including limiting direct sun exposure. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, areas with the most visible signs of Vitiligo are areas of skin exposed to the sun.

Preventive measures are important when going out in the sun. Those with certain skin conditions, however, need to be even more careful before they head out for the day. Making sure to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen may help prevent some of the more unpleasant side effects mentioned above.




    I started breaking out in rashes after being in the sun way back in the 1980’s. When I mentioned it to my doctor back then, he looked at me like I was crazy and pretty much told me it was all in my head. It’s only gotten worse with time. I avoid being in direct sunlight for more than a minute or two any way I can. Now I have full blown Rosacea which the sun triggers. I use side visors in my car when driving to keep the sun off my face, wear hats, long sleeves (I get rashes on my arms as well). And use Zen Med daily. But at least I know that I’m not “crazy”.

    • Karley Ziegler Mott

      Not crazy at all. Sun definitely can trigger your Rosacea. I am glad you have found your ZENMED products helpful. Thanks for reading. -Karley @ ZENMED

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