Sun Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments


What is Sun Poisoning?

Sun poisoning or photodermatitis, is itchy, scaly, reddish skin blisters when exposed to sunlight and excessive ultraviolet A (UVA) or B (UVB) rays. This condition takes a few days or longer to subside.

Intensive and repetitive sun exposure resulting in burning skin and increasing the risk of other skin damage and certain diseases. These conditions include dry or wrinkled skin, dark spots, rough spots, and skin cancer, such as melanoma.

Causes of Sun Poisoning

Beside extreme sun exposure as main cause of sun poisoning. Most of the time, the causes can be due to chemicals in drugs, cosmetics, and food. Certain diseases, such as lupus and eczema, can also make the skin sensitive to light.

Symptoms of Sun Poisoning

Symptoms that appear include red and dry skin. This condition also has blisters and bumpy rashes. The rash may be painful or itchy. Long-term effects are thickening of the skin and the presence of scars and an increased risk of skin cancer.

In addition, severe sunburn or sun poisoning can cause symptoms such as the following:

  • Skin redness and blistering
  • Pain and tingling
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
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There may be signs and symptoms that’s not mentioned above. If you have concerns about a particular symptom, consult to your doctor.

Check with your doctor if you have an unusual skin reaction and feel annoying after sun exposure. Each person’s body is different. Always consult to doctor to deal with your health condition.

Treatments of Sun Poisoning

For mild cases, just avoiding the sun for several days may be enough to resolve signs and symptoms. Usually, commercially available creams that contain corticosteroids and which doctors prescribe can be used for allergic reactions to severe skin. Corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone, can be prescribed by doctors for temporary use in treating severe cases.

In addition, avoiding the sun and the substances that cause poisoning are very important. Use sunblock for UVA and UVB with SPF 15 or more. Be sure to ask for information from doctors and pharmacists about avoiding sun exposure when using any medication. You also can do some treatments at home, such us:

  • Only use drugs prescribed by a doctor. Drugs such as tetracycline antibiotics, sulfa drugs, and thiazide diuretics cause greater sensitivity to light.
  • Use sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves to minimize the effects of unavoidable sun exposure.
  • Avoid fruit and cosmetic based skin lotions, because they may contain sensitizer.
  • The final step, contact your doctor if you have a fever or if symptoms don’t improve with treatment.
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Prevention of Sun Poisoning

Follow these basics of sun safety:

  • Wear a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 and says “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means that it protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Put it on all over about 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Reapply at least every 2 hours and after you’ve been sweating or in the water.
  • Limit your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and remember that water, snow, and sand can intensify the sun’s damaging rays.
  • Wear sunglasses, a hat, and protective clothing.


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