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Sun Poisoning - When it is More than Sunburn

Updated on August 6, 2010

Sun poisoning is a kind of photodermatitis, as is your common sunburn. This means that the two conditions are basically the same condition, medically speaking of course. A sunburn is the skin's allergic reaction when it has been exposed to high levels of sun light. Generally, the phrase sun poisoning is applied to depict situations that go well past the typical sore and red skin of a sunburn.

The pigments in the skin grant you some natural defense against the sun, and sunblock increases this protection. But once this protection is past its threshold, the sun begins to burn and damage your skin. Usually you will begin to feel the effects the same day of the sun exposure while the highest effects of the burn generally are not endured until the following day. More serious sunburns can result in sun blisters and eventually peeling dead skin when the sun blisters dry out.

Symptoms and Causes

When fever, headache, dizziness or nausea are matched with extreme sun exposure, then you have sun poisoning. Normally by now a person has also become dehydrated and can feel light-headed and have difficultly thinking clearly. You are more inclined to sun poisoning if you haven’t had anything to eat in a while or if you struggle to sustain your blood sugar.

Sun poisoning can also refer to when someone's body is exceptionally sensitive to sun light and even just slight exposure will yield a rash or bumps. This is called polymorphous light eruption or PLE and appears most often right at the start of warm weather after a long period where people were particularly deprived of sunlight. In this situation, sunburn may not have to occur for these symptoms to happen. 

Preventive Measures

The ideal method to avoid the negative effects from the sun if you are spending the day outdoors is to protect yourself with sunblock and clothing and to seek shade. If you are vulnerable to enduring the nausea and light-headedness of sun poisoning, try breaking up your sun exposure with trips indoors or at the very least, breaks spent in shaded areas. Also keep in mind to drink plenty of liquids and if you feel like you are getting sunburned, get out of the sun promptly.

For those with extreme sensitivity to sunlight, sunblock on a daily basis is very important as is minimizing sun exposure if possible. And you don't have to be outside at the beach or a barbecue to get sun exposure. It is very possible to get sun poisoning from sitting inside next to a sunny window. So even when you are inside, be aware of your sun exposure and think about moving yourself into the shade or covering up your skin with clothing.

You can find out more information concerning sun poisoning and further sun related subjects.


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      3 years ago

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