What is actinic prurigo?

Actinic prurigo is a condition where prurigo (a rash consisting of small, extremely itchy, raised bumps on the skin, known as papules) develops in response to sunlight. It can develop after exposure to both UVA and UVB light. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that the reaction has an immunological basis and a genetic component as well. The condition worsens in summer.

Actinic prurigo mainly affects people with darker skin. The rash usually appears hours or days after exposure to the sun, and often appears on the lips, as well as the cheeks, nose, earlobes, forehead, and part of the chest not covered by a collar. Although it can affect people of all ages, one third of people affected by actinic prurigo are children, and it is common in prepubescent children. Actinic prurigo of childhood affects boys and girls equally, but actinic prurigo of adulthood is twice as likely to affect women than men.

Treatment is centred around avoiding the sun. Sunscreens and fuller-length clothing can be worn. There are a few treatments that can be given to ease the symptoms, such as corticosteroid creams or antimalarials (such as hydroxychloroquinine) to stop the inflammation, and creams to relieve itching as well.

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