NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Imagine being allergic to the sun – you’re unable to go outside without completely covering up in special clothing and gear.
One brave boy doesn’t have to imagine – it’s how he lives his life every day.
If you ask any four-year-old boy what he wants to be when he grows up, superhero may be at the top of the list. Kevin Risner is no different.
“I am Batman,” Kevin said.
Kevin is absolutely obsessed with Batman, except the suit he puts on is to protect him from the world outside.
“He’s allergic to the sun, UV rays – he’s mostly allergic to UV-B – he’s pretty much 90 percent of the time indoors, windows shut,” mother Jennifer Risner said.
Jennifer noticed the problem 18 months ago, when Kevin developed rashes and painful blisters during the summer months. She thought he was allergic to sunblock, so they switched brands – but it didn’t end.
“I get rashes,” Kevin said.
Nine months ago, after just 20 minutes on the playground at daycare, the situation seemed to be more serious.
“He was wearing long pants and a short-sleeved T-shirt. He broke out in hives all over his arms, all over his face,” Jennifer said. “He had blisters all over his ears. He was obviously very itchy, it hurt.”
After a battery of tests, it was finally confirmed that Kevin has a rare condition called polymorphous light eruption, an extreme sensitivity to the sun – and living with it is not easy.
“We drive by a park, and still to this day, he’ll look over and be like, ‘Mommy, can we go there?’” Jennifer said. “You’re like, ‘I’m sorry honey, we can’t do that right now, the UV index is too high,’ or ‘maybe we can come back when it’s dark outside.‘”
Dermatologist Dr. David Sire said there is no cure for the condition, but there are treatments, such as sun protective clothing and sunscreens. There’s even a technique called skin hardening, where patients are slowly exposed to light and medications.
“It may get better with time, but ultimately, this is not something you grow out of,” Dr. Sire said.
For now, Kevin is happy and healthy and ready to save the world, and in his eyes, you don’t need the sun to do that, just lots of energy.
Polymorphous light eruption can happen to people of all ages and skin tones, but it is most common in fair-skinned people and children.
Many adults experience a milder form of the illness after the first sun exposure in the spring, but most just assume it’s sunburn.
The condition can also strike after using tanning lamps or sun beds.