'Phototoxic Dermatitis' or the 'Phototoxic Contact Dermatitis' is a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed and resembles conditions that occur after a sunburn; hence the name. Just as in the case of sunburn , the sensitivity of skin to photosensitizing substances increases. A similar reaction occurs when a person is suffering from phototoxic dermatitis.

Phototoxic Dermatitis is also called 'sun poisoning' as it generally occurs due to the reaction of skin to the ultraviolet rays of sun. Phototoxic dermatitis leads to hyper pigmentation of that portion of the skin that is more exposed to the sun. Not everyone is however affected by it. The reactions vary from person to person. Diagnosis of the ailment is done by carrying out a photo test.

Causes of Phototoxic Dermatitis

One of the main causes of Phototoxic Dermatitis is the direct exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun that worsen the condition. It is therefore also called 'photo allergy'.

Phototoxic Dermatitis may also result from certain chemicals like coal tar, perfumes, plants, drugs, etc that contain photosynthesizing substances. Other reasons that can cause phototoxic dermatitis are:

* Some skin products like sunscreen lotions, medications, can trigger phototoxic dermatitis.
* Lack of certain vitamins and minerals.
* Certain type of foods, generally the citrus fruits, may also worsen the conditions in case of phototoxic dermatitis.
* Contact with certain form of textiles blended with synthetic material.
* Certain type of dyes in the swimming suits.

Phototoxic dermatitis is also called as 'Bikini Dermatitis' because of the hyper pigmentation that the patient develops after wearing bikini type of swimming suits.

Symptoms of Phototoxic Dermatitis

Phototoxic Dermatitis is characterized by burning sensation and swelling of the skin. This is more so in the area that has been exposed to the sunlight. It is normally accompanied by an itchy sensation, rashes and blisters. There may also be nausea in certain extreme cases.

Prevention of Phototoxic Dermatitis

The best form of prevention of phototoxic dermatitis is avoiding sunlight and staying indoors. If someone has to go out, care should be taken that the body is well covered and it is not exposed to sunlight. Use of clothes like long pants and full sleeves shirts along with wide-brimmed hats can prove to be beneficial.

Avoid the use of any chemical based creams and drugs. Only high-quality sunscreens of factor 30 and above should be used as they offer good UV protection.

Treatment of Phototoxic Dermatitis

Treatment should be carried out under expert guidance of a dermatologist. Proper medication and ointments should be taken as prescribed.

Certain foods that are good for reducing the effects of phototoxic dermatitis should be made a part of the daily diet. Adequate consumption of vitamins is also advised. These should be taken only after the advice of your physician. Vegetables like carrots that are rich in Beta Carotene, and food items rich in omega3 fatty acids like flax seeds and fish are very effective in overcoming the symptoms. External application of Aloe also sooths the skin and subdues the effects of phototoxic dermatitis.