Managing skin light sensitivity (photosensitivity)

Light sensitivity conditions can by physically and mentally challenging. This means getting an early diagnosis is important.

Once you have a diagnosis and know more about the condition, you can have more control over how to manage it.

How to reduce your exposure to light

You can take steps to reduce your exposure to the light that you’re sensitive to. Your healthcare professionals should be able to tell you which of these measures will be most beneficial in your case. 


It’s important to look for areas of shade where possible.

Also, remember that light is reflected from light surfaces, like:

  • paving
  • water, like the sea
  • sand
  • snow


You should carry UV-protective clothing when you go out, including a hat with a wide brim.

Hold the clothing up to a light. If you can see the light through it, UV can probably pass through. Darker colours may be slightly more protective but it is the type of fabric that’s the most important. 


There are different types of UV, including UVA and UVB. UVA can pass through windows but UVB can not.

A special film can be applied to windows to prevent UVA coming through. Closing curtains and blinds can also remove UVA, as well as any visible light.


Some fluorescent lighting in shops, offices and homes produce UV. This will not cause problems for most people. But, if you’re severely sensitive to light you should try to change light bulbs at home or in the office to white Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

You can use ‘warm’ LEDs if you’re visible light sensitive. You could also think about dimmable options. The ‘lumens’ on a light bulb tell you how bright it is.

How to help prevent light sensitivity symptoms

If you have light sensitivity, you should not usually avoid the sun completely. This is because the body needs vitamin D from the sun. Unless you are otherwise advised by your healthcare professionals, you could focus on getting a little sun regularly.

You can also take steps to protect yourself from the sun if you need to be outside for longer.


  • seek out the shade
  • wear a wide-brimmed sun hat
  • wear tightly woven, long-sleeved clothing
  • wear wrap-around sunglasses
  • try UV-protective clothing
  • try wearing a face gaiter
  • carry an umbrella for shade – wider umbrellas give more protection than narrow ones
  • avoid being outside between 11am to 3pm when the sun is strongest
  • apply unperfumed SPF50 sun cream every 2 hours – look for one with high UVA protection

Managing light sensitivity

There are other ways to manage light sensitivity in your day-to-day life.

Plan ahead

You could plan ahead if you have a light sensitivity condition. For example, you could:

  • look for shaded areas when you’re outside – being in the middle of shade gives more protection than the edge
  • book a table away from windows if you’re eating at a restaurant or cafe
  • plan your journeys to make sure you spend as little time in the sun as possible

Make small changes to your routine

You could make small changes to your routine to make the most of the hours of the day that you’re comfortable being outside in. For example, you could go for a walk or work in the garden early in the morning, later in the afternoon or in the early evening.

Learn more about your light sensitivity condition

You can learn more about what triggers your light sensitivity symptoms by keeping a diary or using UV-monitoring apps.

How to support someone with a light sensitivity condition

If you know someone who has a light sensitivity condition, you could discuss it with them. This will help you to understand more about the condition and ways you can support them.

Friends and family


  • meet for a walk later in the evening
  • visit the person at home
  • offer to close curtains or blinds if they visit your home
  • ask if there are ways you can plan an outing together safely
  • ask if they’re comfortable with the lighting and temperature in the room

School and work


  • use UV filters or blinds on windows
  • have home working to avoid people having to commute during summer
  • allow people to stay in one room to avoid travel between classrooms and workspaces
  • explore options for shelter, like a gazebo in school playgrounds
  • set your work station up away from windows
  • consider replacing fluorescent lights with LEDs

Last updated:
03 November 2023