Sun Poisoning doesn't literally mean that you're poisoned by sunlight. It is just a term that is used for severe sunburn cases. This condition results from inflammation of the skin after excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Other than this, it can also refer to other conditions like:
- polymorphous light eruption (PMLE)
- solar urticaria
As short as 15 minutes of exposure, UV rays can already burn your skin, but you may not know it right away. You may start feeling discomfort and seeing redness on your skin a few hours later. If you don't wear sunscreen protection and you stay under the sun for long hours during the day, you're at great risk of severe sunburn. The risk is even higher for people with fair complexion and light colored hair.
Apart from the skin redness and discomfort, other signs and symptoms include:
- tingling sensation
Polymorphous Light Eruption (PLME)
As mentioned above, there are also other kinds of sun poisoning. Polymorphous Light Eruption is quite common with one out of 10 Americans affected. It is more common among women than men. People residing in northern regions experience symptoms of PMLE when taking a vacation in a tropical climate.
Signs and symptoms include:
- itchy rashes
- small bumps and hives on the arms, legs and chest
As for sola urticarial, this one occurs after minutes of exposure to sun.
Signs and symptoms are:
- sometimes loss of consciousness
The blisters may go away after a few hours but the reaction may go on and off for several years.
Simple remedies can be applied for sunburn.
- First is the obvious tip, which is to get out of the sun.
- Then take a cool but not cold shower or bath.
- Alternatively, apply cool compress on your body.
- It's also a must to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- To relieve the pain and discomfort, you may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- You can also use aloe gel or moisturizer to get rid of the dryness that usually leads to itchiness.
- If you are going outside, be sure to cover the affected areas to prevent further irritation.
Now, if you experience any of these, seek medical attention immediately:
- sunburn that turns into a large and painful blister
- facial swelling
- upset stomach
As for PMLE, treatment varies depending on the severity. But usually, it doesn't require any treatment as it goes away by itself from 7 to 10 days.
If you're suffering from solar urticarial, you may be advised by your doctor to take antihistamines to control the symptoms.
Other options for treatment include topical corticosteroids, sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, and low dose antimalarials for PMLE.
- Prevent sunburn or other adverse reactions to sun exposure by wearing sunscreen whenever you go out.
- Choose one that has high sun protection factor (SPF).
- Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going out. Reapply every two hours.
- Apart from sunscreen, it's also a must to wear protective gear like hat, sunglasses and long sleeves.
- Don't go out during the hottest hours of the day which is from 10 am to 4 pm.