You will acknowledge severe sun burn when you step out in the sun for some time. Though a sun burn and poisoning is more or less the same thing and is equally painful for the skin, sun poisoning requires extra care and attention.
What is Sun Poisoning?
It is a term that is used to describe a severe case of sun burn. It is caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun that inflames your skin. Sun poisoning usually begins with symptoms like sunburn but becomes severe when it is left unnoticed. Most people get affected during the summer months and in hot sunny areas. People with lighter skin are most vulnerable to sun poisoning because their body does not produce enough melanin, the pigment that absorbs the UV rays and darkens skin to protect it from sun poisoning.
Two types of reactions:
- Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE):This type of reaction basically happens to people who are not used to get exposed to the hot burning sun. This condition generally affects people who resides in the northern hemisphere and is common during spring or early summer.For example people living in cold places travelling to a warm place could experience PMLE reaction. You will experience severe skin rash which generally occurs after spending several hours in the sun. The rash may also include itching and small bumps, blisters and hives over the exposed body parts such as arms, chests and lower legs. The treatment for PMLE depends upon the extent of sun poisoning. You may need treatment apart from staying away from the sun. The rash if not severe can clear within 7 to 10 days. You can treat the blisters in the same way you treat a sunburn.
- Solar urticarial: It can form within a few minutes when exposed to the sun. Symptoms may include redness, itchiness, wheezing, dizziness, loss of consciousness. In this case, the rashes go away quickly within hours but the reactions of it can be felt anytime throughout the year. They are more severe and can cause heat stroke and sunstroke. This generally happens the body loses excess fluid as well as the electrolytes.
Some of the treatment to cure PMLE or solar urticarial are as follows:
- Use of steroids on your skin to reduce sunburn.
- Use sunscreen that have a label, broad spectrum, written on it. It means the sunscreen is useful against the ultra violet rays of the sun.
- You can also desensitize your skin to the UV light using phototherapy with psoralen UV light.
Sun Poisoning Causes
- It is generally caused when one gets too much exposed to the sun rays.
- You must also take care of your skin even on cloudy days because the sun’s rays can pass through the thick clouds.
- Some people’s skin tends to be extra sensitive because they do not have enough melanin components in their skin particularly people with fair skin, blue eyes or red hair and hence they are at more risk than the others.
- Everyone should be precautious when the sun is at its peak.
Sun Poisoning Symptoms
This video will help you in understanding symptoms
You can get sunburn by just spending around fifteen minutes in the sun but you may not know it immediately. The redness and the discomfort usually show up after a few hours. If you are not wearing proper protections and have light or fair skin and hair, then you are likely to experience sunburn more quickly. Sunburns only leave you red-faced and gives you a. itching feeling but often leave a lasting damage.
However, if you are spending over fifteen minutes, then it can lead to sun poisoning. The short term effect of the sun poisoning generally lasts for four to seven days but can stay beyond a week if it’s more severe and harmful. The primary symptom of sun burn is rashes which reddens your skin but if you experience some additional symptoms and the pain worsens, then you should seek immediate medical help. If not treated with time, it can lead to the development of skin cancer.
Sunburn and Sun poisoning generally means the same thing. They are referred to as photodermatitis in medical term.
Some of the symptoms are:
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To determine whether a person is suffering from sun burn or sun poisoning, the physician will first obtain the medical history of the patient and then do the physical examination to determine to which extent the patient has sun burn. In some severe cases or with patient having previous medical history, the doctor was prescribe a few laboratory tests that help them to determine the severity of the sun poisoning.
Sun Poisoning Treatment
The best way to prevent sun burn and sun poisoning is by protecting your skin. The medical treatment of it is more or less similar to home remedies. They are designed to reduce pain and inflammation.
- If the patient is suffering from mild sun poisoning then the doctors will prescribe medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to relieve pain. They also help in preventing the swelling of burned skin. If you know you have exposed to the sun too much then taking these medication will give you some relief and control the pain.
- If the patient’s case is very severe, then oral steroid therapy may be prescribed for a few days. Steroid creams applied on the skin show negligible to minimum benefit for sunburn, but may be helpful for sun rash.
- Stronger pain-reducing medicines are advised in certain extreme cases of sunburn.
The doctor will ask you to follow-up after the initial first visit evaluation or ask you to return if any further problem occurs. Severe sunburn will make you miss work and the doctor might advise you bed rest for a few days. Moreover, sunburn can also cause premature aging and in some rare cases it can cause skin cancer.
Sun Poisoning Precautions
There are a few easy and simple precautions that is used at home to reduce sun burn effects like itching and burning sensation are:
- Applying wet clothes on your body to reduce the pain of sunburn.
- Put yourself in a bathtub of cool, plain and soap-free water as soap can increase itching in the skin. Gently pat the skin and do not rub after a bath.
- Apply a body lotion or a cream or something that is prescribed by the doctor. Also cover the sun-burn area when going out and do not scratch the rashes or pop up the blisters.
- Moisture in the skin quickly evaporates from the akin due to the heat coming out from the sun. Dehydration can be very painful and then it becomes severe, you can also be hospitalised.
- Cold compresses which is made of same portion of milk and water, or filled with Burow’s solution will help soothe the skin. When the compresses that you have laid on your skin loses its coldness, remove it from your body and dip it again in the cold water and apply it on your skin.
- Aloe Vera gel can also serve as an alternative relief measure. If you have an aloe vera plant, break off some part of the leaf and apply the gel that comes out on your skin.
- Avoid using anything that contains strong fragnances and exfoliants as it might increase your irritation.
- You can also take beta-carotene supplements as they have been shown to reduce inflammation.
- The kitchen offers a variety of option that you can try to reduce the effect of sun poisoning. Yogurt can be applied to the burnt areas and then washed off with cold water will give you a soothing effect to the burnt area. You can also make a corn-starch and water paste and apply it directly on the affected portions.
At any point of time, you suffer extreme pain or vomiting and you fever grows over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you should immediately head to an emergency room. In more severe cases, a doctor or a dermatologist can advise an oral steroid to reduce inflammation or provide fluids to restore hydration.
Sun Poisoning Prevention’s
The easiest way to avoid sunburn is by using some of the effective and preventive tricks. Some of the simple checks comprise of:
- You should drink plenty of water to keep hydrated when spending a lot of time under sun.
- Wear and use a sunscreen lotion to prevent sunburn. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that means it will protect you from UV radiations of the sun. Apply it all over your skin around 20 minutes before you are going out in the open. You can re-use it after every two hour or after sweating in the sun. Even if you are using the best SPF cream you will burn your skin if you are spending too much time in the sun.
- Avoid spending much time in the sun during the middle of the day especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or in direct sunlight.
- Wear sun glasses, long-sleeves clothes and a hat while travelling in the sun.
You can even consult a doctor if you are getting too much exposed in the sun. If you are taking any kind of medication for curing acne, antibiotic tablets, anti-depressants, heart drugs, etc., check if it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Some of the fragrances that you are using also might make it extra sensitive.
Sun Poisoning Pictures
Sun Poisoning images, pictures and Photos are as below: