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30th October 2020

Prescribing Sunscreen – Solar urticaria

Did you know if you are affected by solar urticaria you can get sunscreen on prescription?

Recent changes to the UK drug tariff mean that certain conditions, including Solar urticaria are now eligible for sunscreen on prescription. [1]


The Drug Tariff is a monthly article created by the NHS Prescription Services on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care. It outlines a limited list of drugs and medical devices that can be prescribed by doctors using NHS prescriptions. It also lists the criteria for which they should be used. These recent changes have outlined the conditions that are now eligible to have sunscreen prescribed due to photosensitivity. 


What is Solar Urticaria?

Solar urticaria refers to a rare form of urticarial, or ‘hives’, brought on by exposure to sunlight in people with photosensitivity, or an unusual sensitivity to sunlight.


Solar urticaria is brought on by sunlight triggering the release of a compound called histamine from inflammatory cells called mast cells. 2  As it is triggered by an immune response, solar urticaria can develop within minutes of being exposed to the sun, which can be quite alarming for some. Solar urticaria can be triggered by both UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.2


What should you do next?


Speak to your health care professional. They will be familiar with your condition, symptoms and triggers, and can determine whether the use of sunscreen is required for your management strategy. While the Drug Tariff only specifies a limited number of conditions as being eligible, the list is not exhaustive and NHS dermatology specialists can give consideration to other high-risk patients.[1] To see the full list of conditions now eligible please see our Sunscreen on prescription page.


What sunscreens can I be prescribed?

The Drug Tariff lists only a small selection of sunscreens available for prescription.[1] SunSense Ultra SPF50+ is one of them. SunSense Ultra SPF50+ not only provides very high, broad-spectrum protection, with an SPF of 50+ and a 5-star UVA rating, but is a light, smooth lotion that’s easy to apply and is readily absorbed. It also contains moisturising Vitamin B3 to help improve skin tone and texture as well as replenish dry skin.


SunSense Ultra SPF50+ is designed for everyday use, making it an ideal choice for people with photosensitivity conditions.


If you have any queries about getting SunSense or sunscreen on prescription please contact us at 



[1]  NHS – Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group. Position statement on the prescribing of sunscreens on GP FP10 prescription [Internet]. [cited 2020 Apr 15];Available from:

[2] British Association of Dermatologists – Solar Urticaria [Internet]. [Cited 2020 August 20] Available from:



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