It’s not always fun in the sun: watch out for allergies at the beach

allergies at the beach

It’s not always fun in the sun: watch out for allergies at the beach

In the UK, we have to make the most of summer while we have it. And we’ve been fortunate this year to see a lot of sun – with hopefully plenty more to come. That sunshine has kicked many of us into gear, inspiring us to get outside and enjoy the good weather. The first place plenty of people will head to? The beach.

Whether it’s sunnier shores in another country or right here on our lovely British coasts, the beach is always a great place to go. Even with all the sand getting everywhere. But what does this mean for your allergies? Here are some you need to be mindful of this summer.

The sun

As strange as it sounds, people can be “allergic” to the sun. There are a couple of ways this could come about, but we want to highlight one in particular: polymorphic light eruption. This is a scientific way of describing a rash on your skin after being exposed to the sun, very similar to an allergy.

Symptoms include an itchy or burning rash which can happen in mere hours, but can also take up to 2 to 3 days to turn up. And this can last for up to 2 weeks. It happens when the UV light touches our skin. The thought is that it alters something on the surface, which our immune system then reacts to. To combat it, stay in the shade when you can.

Sun cream

You could also protect yourself with sun cream, but this may cause issues itself. This will be a form of dermatitis – when your skin reacts to something it doesn’t agree with. It can be caused by an allergy. You might be allergic to something in the sun cream, causing your skin to break out in a rash or aggressive red patches.

Alternatively, it could be irritant contact dermatitis, which is more common in people with a history of eczema or sensitive skin. Symptoms will be similar and are more of a reaction to the sun cream as a whole rather than any one ingredient.


Yes, pollen can still affect you at the beach. Many people assume that the coast is pollen-free. It is true that the sea breeze is more likely to blow it away, and the moisture in the air is going to give it less room to travel. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.

Ragweed pollen has been found 400 miles out to sea. And up to two miles up in the air! It’s impossible to escape it forever. So don’t think you can skip out on your antihistamine this time.


We talked about insects not too long ago, and they’re just as likely to turn up at the beach. You also have beach-specific insects that live in the sand. If you’re lying on a towel on the ground, you may come into contact with them, and their bites might trigger your symptoms.

Not to mention the fact that people love to bring packed lunches with them to the beach, attracting wasps and bees who want a taste. If you know you have an insect allergy, don’t drop your guard and be as vigilant as you would usually be.

With all this said, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your day at the beach. Have fun, get some sun, and eat an ice cream for us. Just make sure you’re doing it in the safest way possible.

If you ever have any allergy concerns, you can always talk to one of our allergy specialists. We can help you navigate the ins and outs of your condition and allow you to live the best life possible. Just call us on 02031 433 449 or register as a new patient here.

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