For years, Mallary Lattanze, 37, feared going outside.
At 31, she suddenly developed an allergy to the sun – yes, you read that correctly – known as solar urticaria, which doctors say can often occur spontaneously in women in their mid 30s.
‘It comes on spontaneously and can spontaneously go away,’ says Mallary, from Houston, Texas.
‘However, for me, it has not gone away after six years. One doctor suggested that I may have had a mild form of urticaria – or just sensitive skin – my whole life.’
Until recently, Mallary couldn’t go outdoors without suffering from extreme redness, burning, itching and hives. But thankfully, she’s found a treatment to help.
‘We don’t even get much of a winter here in Houston, so I continued to get flare-ups in December and even overcast days of rain,’ she said.
‘It affects me all over. Even to the edge of my fingertips and toes. It only affects the skin that has been exposed to the sun. I have exact outlines of my clothing.
‘My symptoms include extreme redness, hives, intense itching and burning.
‘They are very uncomfortable, and the pain can be so bad it makes me teary-eyed.’
People are often floored when she tells them she is allergic to the sun, she added.
”Usually, there is a short pause of before they ask, “What did you say?” or “Is that really possible?” Then they are interested to learn more and worry if it is okay for me to go outside, before I tell them that I now can,’ she said.
‘Sometimes I get the joke of people saying, “Mallary is a real-life vampire..” I also say the same thing to make light of the situation.’
When her condition was at its worst, Mallary lived alone, forcing her to go out and socialise often ‘even though [her] symptoms were horrendous’.
Thankfully, though, she has now been prescribed medication that allows her to live her life normally.
Previously, Mallary was advised by a dermatologist to use a high-zinc sunscreen and to take an antihistamine, Zyrtec, which she ended up taking between five and 15 times a day, but they barely made a difference.
With her symptoms worsening, Mallary ‘begged’ for another treatment option.
‘My allergist said I was now in the chronic stage,’ she said.
‘They started me on a pre-filled syringe of a prescription medication called Xolair, which can sometimes help certain types of urticaria.
‘I had to try out a few doses, and eventually ended up on vial injections every four weeks. This is the current treatment plan I am on now.
‘I also take one or two Allergia daily, as I itch throughout the day. I only take one or two Zrytec, if needed.
‘I still wear high-zinc sunscreen to the beach, or when I am very exposed for long periods, but I now live a relatively normal life!
‘I no longer fear going outside.’
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