Your Guide to Sun Poisoning

During the summer, people often want to soak as much sun as possible at the beach or even in their swimming pool. When your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays – sometimes for as little as 15 minutes – you can develop a burn. But if you expose your skin any longer than that and you risk getting sun poisoning. Sun poisoning is an extreme case of sunburn caused by prolonged sun exposure.

What is Sun Poisoning?

Despite its name, sun poisoning isn’t literal poisoning. The term “sun poisoning can have a couple of different meanings. Most people use the term when referring to a particular severe sunburn.

Another instance could refer to photodermatitis, which is the scientific name for any abnormal reaction to sunlight. You may find yourself asking what’s the difference between sunburn and sun poisoning? Photodermatitis has symptoms that are identical to sunburn, but certain forms can cause additional, rash-like symptoms.

How to recognize Sun Poisoning

The sun’s harmful UV rays can actually damage DNA and kill skin cells. It usually takes a few hours for your body to respond to the burn. This is why you may not realize you have been burnt in the afternoon until later in the evening.

You may wonder how to correctly identify instances of sun poisoning. In addition to the presence of sunburn, some classic symptoms of sun poisoning include:

  • Large blisters
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling

Treating Sun Poisoning

Since sun poisoning is more extreme than your typical sunburn, it needs to be treated differently in order to prevent further damage. Here are some simple and easy ways to treat sun poisoning.

  • Get out of the sun and find shade immediately!
  • Cool your skin with a damp clothes or cool (not cold) shower.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
  • If necessary, take pain relievers such as aspirin to reduce your discomfort.
  • Apply aloe to the burnt areas of your skin.
  • Keep your burnt areas covered if you cannot remain inside.

If you feel that sun poisoning is escalating, please be advised that you should seek medical attention immediately.

Tips to Prevent Sun Poisoning

Sun Poisoning can be a very painful experience; however, it is also highly preventable. By taking the proper precautions, you can continue to have fun in the sun! Here are some helpful tips to avoid getting sun poisoning:

  • Avoid Mid-Day Sun: The sun’s rays are usually strongest between 11am and 2pm. If possible try to plan your outdoor activities in the early morning or later in the afternoon.
  • Apply Sunblock: If you plan on going outside, be sure to apply a generous amount of sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher. Also be sure to apply it every two hours because it is possible you could sweat it off.
  • Limit Your Sun Exposure: It’s understandable that you probably want to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather as much as possible. But if you burn easily, perhaps you could spend one day enjoying indoor activities.
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