How to Make Sun Hives Go Away

Sun hives, or photodermatitis, occur when the skin has an abnormal reaction to sunlight. Several factors can cause sun hives, including an allergic reaction to sunlight, diseases such as lupus or medications that cause photosensitivity, such as St. John's Wort. In addition to the hives, you may also experience an intense, burning itch, as well as chills, headache and a fever. You may experience these symptoms while you are in the sunlight or several minutes to hours after exposure.

A young woman sunbathing in the pool Credit: David De Lossy/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Step 1

Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, as well as an antihistamine cream such as diphenhydramine, to the hives. The hydrocortisone reduces inflammation, and the antihistamine relieves itching.

Step 2

Take an oral allergy medicine, such as cetirizine, fexofenadine or loratidine. You can also take diphenhydramine instead of using a topical antihistamine cream. To prevent an overdose, do not use oral diphenhydramine and diphenhydramine cream together, and make sure to follow all package directions regarding dosage.

Step 3

Dip a clean washcloth in cold water, wring the cloth until damp and apply it to the hives. The cool moisture can help to reduce the swelling and itching.

Things You'll Need

  • Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream

  • Over-the-counter antihistamine cream

  • Oral allergy medicine

  • Clean washcloth

  • Water


Prevent future outbreaks by avoiding the sun as much as possible. Wear SPF 45 or greater on areas that encounter sunlight regularly, such as your left arm while driving.


Get out of the sun immediately if you experience hives while in direct sunlight. The longer your exposure, the worse your hives can become. Consult a physician if you experience a severe reaction to sunlight. He may need to prescribe immunosuppressant drugs or UV light therapy to treat your condition.

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