Sun Poisoning: Symptoms and Treatment
Sun poisoning, also known as severe sunburn or sun toxicity, is a serious reaction to overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Symptoms can include red, painful, and swollen skin; blisters; fever; headache; nausea; and dehydration. In severe cases, sun poisoning can cause dizziness, fainting, and confusion. Sun poisoning is considered a form of sunburn and should be treated as a medical emergency if severe symptoms occur. To prevent sun poisoning, it is important to use sunscreen and protective clothing, seek shade during the hottest parts of the day, and limit exposure to the sun in general.
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What are the symptoms of sun poisoning?
You may initially feel signs of a typical sunburn when you have sun poisoning. After being exposed to UV radiation for 6 to 12 hours, sunburn symptoms can develop. It’s critical to distinguish between sun poisoning, sunburn, and sun rash symptoms.
Sun exposure, sun poisoning, or exposure to outdoor plants like parsnip can cause a sun rash (sun allergy). Sometimes it runs in the family. An extensive red rash is how sun allergy symptoms manifest themselves. It itches a lot, too. The rash may grow little lumps that resemble hives.
Sun exposure frequently causes sun allergies, which may require ongoing dermatological care. Sun poisoning is more of an isolated occurrence that necessitates medical treatment than a sun rash.
You can endure redness, soreness, and swelling if you have a light sunburn. Although applying aloe vera gel might help calm your skin, a sunburn eventually heals on its own.
An occasional cold bath or over-the-counter painkillers might also ease discomfort. Sunburn eventually heals on its own without any major consequences.
The symptoms of sun poisoning can vary, but common signs include:
- Red, painful, and swollen skin
- Blisters on the skin
- A fever or fever-like symptoms such as chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dizziness or fainting
- In severe cases, sun poisoning can cause additional symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, and chest pain.
If you develop any of these symptoms after spending time in the sun, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Even if symptoms are mild, it is still important to take care of sunburned skin and prevent further damage, and it’s highly recommended to speak to a doctor to know if you have a severe case of sun poisoning.
How do they treat sun poisoning?
Treatment for sun poisoning typically involves self-care measures and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms. The most important thing is to rest and stay out of the sun until your skin has fully healed. Here are a few things that you can do to help relieve symptoms of sun poisoning:
- Apply a cool compress or take a cool bath to soothe sunburned skin
- Use a moisturizer to help hydrate dry and damaged skin
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Take a mild antihistamine to help with itching and discomfort
In more severe cases, treatment may require prescription medications, such as corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation, pain, and to prevent blistering. In such cases, you should see a doctor to get the proper treatment.
It is important to remember that sun poisoning is a form of severe sunburn and should be taken seriously. If you experience severe symptoms or your symptoms don’t improve with self-care, it’s important to seek medical attention. Also, keeping yourself protected from the sun in the future, using sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding the sun during peak hours can help prevent future episodes of sun poisoning.
How long does it take to get over sun poisoning?
The amount of time it takes to recover from sun poisoning can vary depending on the severity of the burn and the individual’s skin type. In general, mild sun poisoning symptoms may improve within a few days and fully heal within a week. But, it may take a couple of weeks or longer for the skin to fully heal and return to its normal color.
Severe sun poisoning symptoms such as blistering, fever or other signs of systemic involvement usually take longer to heal, and may take several weeks or even months. It’s important to keep the affected area moisturized and protected from the sun to promote healing and prevent further damage to the skin. It’s also important to stay well hydrated and seek medical attention as needed.
It’s important to note that even if the symptoms have improved, the skin will still be more susceptible to sun damage for a period of time after sun poisoning, so continued sun protection is crucial for the healing and the future health of your skin.
How is sun poisoning diagnosed?
Sun poisoning is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and a person’s recent history of sun exposure. A doctor will typically examine the affected areas of the skin for signs of sunburn, such as redness, pain, and blistering. They may also take the person’s temperature and look for signs of fever or other systemic symptoms.
In some cases, a doctor may do a skin biopsy to rule out other skin conditions such as skin cancer, or blood tests to check for signs of dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. These test would be carried out if the symptoms are severe and causing a lot of pain or concern.
Diagnosis will be based on the assessment of the symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination, and in some cases additional tests may be needed. It’s important to speak to a doctor if you suspect you have sun poisoning or if your symptoms do not improve with self-care.
You must immediately see a doctor if you suspect sun poisoning. They can aid in the provision of care to stop associated consequences such skin damage and severe dehydration.
You might occasionally need to visit the emergency room, particularly if you’re dehydrated or experiencing flu-like symptoms like a fever or aches and pains.
Your physician will assess your vital signs and the severity of your sunburn in the emergency room.
How is sun poisoning treated?
Cool water or compresses may be used by your doctor to cure sun poisoning. Peeling skin can retain the most moisture if lotion is applied while it’s still damp. Additionally, consuming liquids can help restore moisture lost by severely dry skin.
Treatment options for sun poisoning include:
- IV fluids for treating dehydration
- steroids for excruciating, blistering sunburns
- oral steroid therapy for inflammation and discomfort
- if OTC pain relievers are ineffective, consult a doctor for prescription medication.
- antibacterial creams for skin contact
Sun poisoning will eventually recover with prompt treatment. In the most serious situations, patients with sun poisoning may be moved to the burn unit of the hospital.
Can sun poisoning cause complications?
Sun poisoning can cause serious complications if left untreated or if the person’s symptoms are severe. Some of the potential complications of sun poisoning include:
- Dehydration: sun poisoning can cause fluid loss through the skin, which can lead to dehydration. It’s important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and replace fluids lost through sweating.
- Heat exhaustion or heat stroke: Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur due to prolonged exposure to the sun, leading to high body temperature, dehydration, and other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and headache.
- Shock: In rare cases, sun poisoning can cause shock, a life-threatening condition that occurs when not enough blood is flowing to the vital organs. Shock can be caused by a severe sunburn that affects a large area of the body and can lead to fluid loss, fluid buildup in the lungs, and an abnormal drop in blood pressure.
- Blistering: severe sunburns may cause blistering which can get infected if not treated properly and can lead to scarring
- Immune suppression: UV radiation can suppress the body’s immune system, leaving the person more susceptible to infections.
- Skin cancer: People who get sun poisoning have an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Sunburns, especially severe ones, increase the risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
How long does sun poisoning last?
Despite its name, sun poisoning doesn’t mean you’ve been poisoned. Sun poisoning, also called sun rash, is the name for a more severe type of sunburn. Symptoms include:
- rapid pulse
Keeping your skin protected is the greatest approach to stop blisters from sunburns. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 while you’ll be outside. While spending time outside, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face and other protective clothes to protect your skin.
Checking your prescriptions before going outside in the sun is also a good idea. Antibiotics are one class of drug that may raise the risk of burning. The sensitivity to the sun can be dramatically increased by oral and topical acne treatments.
If you think you may have a sunburn, try to cool off as soon as you can to decrease the severity of the burn. Drink plenty of water, stay inside or in the shade, and if you can, rinse your skin with cold water.