Sun Poisoning

December 13, 2013 | 0

The term ‘sun poisoning’ refers to an instance of serious sunburn. It does not in any way indicate actual poisoning of a human by sunlight. It usually points to a skin burn or inflammation of the skin by the UV rays of the sun.

Symptoms of sun poisoning

Humans can get affected by a sunburn after exposure to sunlight for only 15 minutes. It may however be noted that affected persons may not be conscious of this fact right away. The reddening of skin and accompanying discomfort may not arise for a few hours post the sunburn.

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People who spend long hours under the sun without protecting themselves adequately are more prone to experiencing serious sunburns. Individuals with lighter hair and fair skin are also at greater vulnerability to sun poisoning than others.

A few common signs and symptoms associated with a severe sunburn or sun poisoning are listed below:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Pain and tingling feelings
  • Swelling and inflammation of the skin
  • Redness and blistering of skin
  • Dehydration

Treatment of sun poisoning

The below listed home remedies may help in alleviating the varied symptoms of sun poisoning or severe sunburn:

  • Do not go out in hot and sunny weather for a few days. In case you need to go out then make sure that all skin areas with sun poisoning are fully covered.
  • Use Aloe Vera gel or mild moisturizers on the affected regions
  • Application of cool compresses and cool showers or baths are also helpful. Cold showers/baths should be avoided
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids to maintain the body hydration levels.
  • OTC pain killer medications can be taken to ease the pain.

Patients of sun poisoning must immediately seek medical attention if they experience the following:

  • When severe sunburn occurs over large areas of the body, or when it causes severe pain, or leads to development of blisters on affected skin.
  • Disorientation, confusion, and/or headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Digestive abnormalities
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever along with/or chills

People who are at increased risk to sun poisoning as well as others may follow the below listed sun-safety and self-care guidelines to prevent instances of severe sunburns:

  • Avoid venturing out into the sun or restrict exposure to sunshine between 10 AM and 2 PM. It is also important to remember that water, snow, and sand can amplify the destructive rays of the sun.
  • Apply ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens with an SPF value of at least 30. These sunscreens will guard the skin against the damaging effects of both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. The sunscreen should be applied throughout the body, around 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sunshine. The sunscreen should be reapplied after every 2 hours, and/or after being in water or excessively perspiring.
  • Ensure that protective clothing, including sunglasses, hats, caps, etc. are worn when out under the sun.

It may be noted that some medicines such as diuretics, certain antibiotics, acne medications, birth control pills, cardiac drugs, and antidepressants tend to increase the skin’s sensitivity towards sunlight. People who are taking such medications need to verify with their health care providers about its side effects.

Other types of sun poisoning

There are two other kinds of responses/reactions to the rays of the sun which can also be termed as sun poisoning, namely, solar urticaria and polymorphous light eruption.

Solar urticaria

The signs and symptoms of this form of sun poisoning occur within some minutes of sun exposure. Patients may experience the below listed symptoms if large parts of the skin get affected:

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  • Dizziness
  • Development of skin blisters
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Wheals or raised areas may appear on the skin
  • Skin reddening
  • Wheezing
  • Itching

The blisters fade away after a few hours without treatment. However, they may recur for several years. Antihistamines may help alleviate the severity of the symptoms. People suffering from recurrent instances of this type of sun poisoning must however consult a doctor for effective treatment.

PMLE or Polymorphous light eruption

PMLE is a kind of skin rash that affects photosensitive people. It can also affect people who bodies are not attuned to excess sunshine. This type of sun poisoning does not have any known links with the intake of medicines or with any diseases.

PMLE skin rash usually appears after spending some hours under the sun. Patients may also experience the below listed symptoms:

  • Appearance of hives on the lower portion of legs, chest, and arms.
  • Development of tiny bumps on exposed areas of skin. Such bumps may occur in thick clusters.
  • Itchiness of the rash.

Native Americans may develop a hereditary kind of PMLE, which tends to occur between spring and fall. It causes redness, burning sensations, and itching which can persist for a couple of days or for many weeks. Patients may also experience fatigue, chills, headache, and nausea for some hours.

PMLE rashes disappear on their own within a week or 10 days. Patients should stay indoors or use adequate protection while venturing out.

Topical steroids and/or PUVA may also be suggested by doctors to treat the above two discussed forms of sun poisoning.

Sun Poisoning Rash Pictures

sun poisoning rash

sun poisoning rash

sun poisoning pictures

sun poisoning rash pictures

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