How Serious is Sun Poisoning?

May 13, 2024

by  | May 13, 2024 | Healthy Living

You just spent a relaxing weekend at the beach and the memories float through your mind like a gentle sea breeze. As you relax and reflect, you feel that nasty red burn that still lingers on your skin. Normally your sunburn disappears after a few days, with the help of aloe and lotion. This time, however, it has started to blister, and an irritating rash has begun to spread across infected areas of skin. You aren’t just sunburnt – you are suffering from sun poisoning, a condition that can become serious if not handled correctly.

What is Sun Poisoning?

Sun poisoning isn’t an official medical term, but it refers to a type of sun allergy called Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE). This type of reaction often happens to people with fair hair after spending time in the sun, although other factors can play into developing this skin condition. Sun poisoning occurs when your immune system mistakenly sees sun-damaged skin cells as invasive bodies and tries to protect you by reacting against them. The tricky thing about sun poisoning is that it can happen again each time you’re exposed to sunlight.

Is it Serious?

Not all sunburns are cases of sun poisoning, even if they both result in red skin. In a regular sunburn, the skin feels smooth, while in sun allergy or sun poisoning, it becomes bumpy. Unlike a sunburn that fades in a few days, symptoms of sun poisoning might not show up until several hours to a couple of days later. Sun poisoning affects people differently and may not be as severe for everyone. Those with fair skin or a family history of skin cancer are more prone to it.
After too much sun exposure, you might develop an itchy, blistering rash that makes even gentle touches unbearable. You might also experience nausea, chills, headache, and intense thirst, which could signal severe dehydration—a serious condition. The effects of sun poisoning can linger for weeks, depending on its severity and whether you treat it.

Additional Signs of Sun Poisoning Include:

⦁ Peeling skin
⦁ Shortness of breath
⦁ Confusion
⦁ Lightheadedness
⦁ Dizziness
⦁ Fainting
⦁ Lip blisters

Though not everyone experiences it in the same way, it is vital to take care of Sun Poisoning and see a medical professional as soon as possible, if your condition worsens. If left untreated, rashes and blisters can persist for weeks, leading to permanent skin damage. Don’t wait around, be proactive – especially if you have family history with skin diseases and cancers.

Risk Factors

Various factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing sun poisoning. These include having red hair, taking specific antibiotics or lupus medications, using certain topical medications, and even encountering certain plants that can cause skin reactions when touched in sunlight. A broader range of risk factors includes:

⦁ Having fair skin and/or red hair
⦁ Working outdoors
⦁ Having a family history of skin cancer
⦁ Drinking alcohol while engaging in outdoor activities
⦁ Residing at high altitudes
⦁ Applying baby oil to the skin for tanning
⦁ Using tanning beds or lamps

When to Visit AFC

It’s important to stay alert to know when you need medical attention. Look out for signs like large blisters, intense swelling, or increasing pain, as they could indicate serious problems that need urgent medical assessment. Seek immediate medical help if you have sunburn or sun poisoning, along with:

⦁ A fever above 103°F (39.4°C) accompanied by vomiting
⦁ Confusion
⦁ Signs of dehydration
⦁ Any signs of infection
⦁ Cold skin, dizziness, or feeling faint

Sun Poisoning can be serious, but you don’t have to suffer. Visit AFC Knoxville, by appointment or walk-in, to receive top-tier medical care for all your sun-induced dermatology needs. Our expert team is ready and willing to give you the care you need.

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