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How to Treat and Prevent Sun Poisoning: Rash, Allergies & Other Symptoms

Updated on February 20, 2014

Sun Poisoning is a serious condition that is affecting an increasing number of individuals who have developed a sensitivity to the sun. The technical name for sun poisoning is photodermatitis, the same name used for sunburn. It is a more extreme case of sunburn involving an allergic skin reaction to extreme sun exposure.

Sun Poisoning Symptoms

In addition to the regular symptoms of sunburn (itching, peeling, redness), sun poisoning is a rash that may have small blisters that can become infected. Symptoms include fever, chills, itching, nausea, headache, and dizziness, fluid loss and electrolyte imbalance. Sun poisoning will often become more severe if it recurs.

The major factors causing sun poisoning are medications that make the skin become more sensitive (birth control pills, salicylanilide found in industrial cleaner, hexachlorophene in some antibacterial soaps, tetracycline antibiotics), sunscreen products that contain PABA and certain fragrances, vitamin deficiency and autoimmune conditions. An allergic reaction to these factors occur each time your skin comes into contact with the sun. Symptoms may not be confined to the area of sun exposure. Fortunately, there are some very effective remedies and methods of prevention for sun poisoning.

Sun Poisoning Treatment

Natural treatments include aloe vera which helps to sooth sun burned skin, calendula used in the form of a suspension or tincture to reduce inflammation, control bleeding and sooth irritated tissue,avoid the sun between the hours of noon until 3pm, avoid creams and medications that proven to be underlying factors contributing to sun poisoning. If the sun damage is severe you may need to see a dermatologist for treatment of infection and dehydration.

Sun Poisoning Prevention

It may not be easy to discover what plant, medication or chemical is the cause of your allergic reaction to the sun. You will have to use the process of trial and error. Once you have found out the source you should immediately stop using it. If it is a necessary medication prescribed by your doctor you should avoid the sun while you are taking the medication. If you are fair skinned your risk of sun poisoning is increased. Always limit your sun exposures, starting with a very brief exposure and gradually increasing it per exposure, and use a healthy sun screen that does not contain sun allergy producing chemicals for protection.

Address possible vitamin deficiencies that may be the cause of sun poisoning and increase immune defence by taking the following nutrients: Beta Carotene - carrots are a great source, Omega-3 Fatty Acids - the best source is flax seed oil, Vitamins C, D, E, Niacin, Green Tea. SeaSource Renewing Body Gelee is an effective healing botanical and pain reliever.

Sun poisoning is a condition that is becoming more common due to our exposure to different plants, medications, chemicals and vitamin deficiencies. It is important to discover the cause of the sun allergy and eliminate it. Taking the necessary preventative steps will make exposure to the sun a more healthy and pleasant experience.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have had sun poisoning since I was about 18 now I am 36. I have very fair skin. My mother gets it, a few of my moms sisters and my grandpa also get sun poisoning. The thing I notice the most as soon as I get a base tan (about mid July) I don't get it as extreme. My mom believes it's hereditary. R there any studies on that?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Dear Steve,

      I have been suffering from rashes whenever i am in combination of sun and water together including my sweat. initially i thought it was an allergic reaction from pool water but that was ruled out when i started swimming after 5:00 p.m. I am Indian and my skin should be more sun friendly but docs could only think about low melanin which i strongly feel is not the case as i have normal weatish Indian skin tone.. i switched to water based sunscreens which helped me 50% in reducing the rashes and month long agony of itching, burning and inflammation. 3 days back i again got a sewer attack on beach and this time it came with tiny blisters but no nausea little bit of whizzing.

      every time i go through this my immediate home remedy is to apply curd on the effected area repeated for 2-3 days it heals faster, also i was prescribed Momate ointment which is also helping in healing externally still i would like to cure & not treat it later. Are there any particular tests for sun poisoning ?

      Thank you for the article & your help. Archana

    • profile image

      Dottie Echols 

      7 years ago

      I'm being treated for sun poison, I had a double shot of sterods on Wednesday night, took sterods med 3 times on thursday, Now I'm worse, diarrea, sidk in the stomach . Went to the Dr. Friday and now ofnTriamcinolone acetonid 1% I had bumps on my chest for over 3 months and never thought anything of it until the swelling and itching and burning started. Just sweating burned my chest. and the large lump between my collar bones reall are starting to scare me. I'm ben on Omeprazole ( Prilosec) for many months and Livalo 4 mg. for about 6 months and I'm now worring that either one of both of the medications i'm on are causing the problem. My chest itches , swelling, and tightness in the chest. I'v stoped taking Prilosec and Livalo as of Friday and just using the ointment that causes more itching so now im taking benedrill to try and cut down on the itching. I'm doing blood work tomorrow morning to check my throid, chloristerol, etc. BUt my nerves are shot. Any suguestions.

    • LittleFairy profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the useful information. I had no idea something like this existed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I also have the rash appear when I am exposed to the sun. it started when I was about 18 I love being in the sun but I have to limit myself and now that I have kids I really hate not being able to take them out I was told that Vitamin D would help does anyone know what I could use to help stop this?

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      I am a dark skin woman and I keep getting sun poisining. Thanks for the info. I must be using something that is making me alergic to the sun.

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Being a Bricklayer in Oz i have to be very careful and have regular skin checkups. After several years of working out in the sun all day my eyes began to become sore. Sun glasses helped, but it is a hidden problem to many people. Cheers.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      um... i just got sunburn today and i have either a rash or it's just sunburn i mean it's red and it itches so im kind've confused please help

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for all the helpful info.

      My husband just got over a bad case of it. We were only out in the sun a few hours at a pool. He came home and was shivering, lightheaded and doesn't remember most of the afternoon. He got sick once and said he felt better. Pushed the fluids and after a good nights sleep...all was well. Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've been dealing with sun posining on a regular basis for about 10 years now. It has gotten so bad that I cannot even spend 3 continuous hours in the sunlight without breaking out with the notorious blistering, itchy rash. I get the rash pretty much everywhere (face, arms, shoulders, back, cheast & legs). This really sucks. I love the outdoors & going to the beach but feel as though I can no longer continue these activities any more. I am only 32 years old & can't help but wonder how much worse my reaction to sunlight will be by the time I'm 42.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I pulled this article up because I am taking a medication that makes me sensitive to sunlight. I just recently started having problems. I'm not burning. I'm using sunscreen. But my skin starts tingling anywhere sun touches, and now I have blisters on my hand, and on my arm. It's painful and itches. Looks similair to poison ivy. I'm miserable! I work outside in the sun. Guess I will have to contact my physician.

    • profile image

      Joan Bierk 

      8 years ago

      , now know it is sun poisoning..legs side ..walking along the ocean and not all day in the sun.So red, it will now be long pants this summer.

    • profile image

      kaitlyn marie 

      8 years ago

      this helps thank you .

      i have sun poisoning now and this will help thank you again ..

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I usually end up with a rash on my arms from sun exposure. I wonder if it is due to my medication. I will check out your linked articles thanks

    • profile image

      UK Magazines 

      9 years ago

      Provided very good info. Certainly expect more from you of this kinda.

    • Priyanka Swamy profile image

      Priyanka Swamy 

      9 years ago from Concord, CA

      Great information and a very serious condition that everyone, especially parents, should be aware of.

    • JPSO138 profile image


      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      Very informative hub. I really learned a lot from reading this. Keep those hubs coming!

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      9 years ago

      Great information. I'm a fair skinned person and I certainly regret all of the sun exposure I had as a kid, before anyone really talked about all of this. I think I had some sun poisoning once many years ago. I had gone to a tanning booth once or twice in the winter because I was planning a trip to Florida and I thought it might help prevent a burn once I got there. Instead I broke out in ugly red blotches and couldn't feel good about even wearing shorts!

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment Lou!

      The most effective product I know of for soothing pain from sunburn and accelerating the healing process is a product from Arbonne called Skin Conditioning oil. Use generous amounts when applying this product to get maximum results. In my experience it is much more effective than aloe vera gel which I used to use whenever I got a sunburn. I have listed the product through Amazon above for your information.

    • profile image

      Lou Hartshorn 

      9 years ago

      I know I have an allergy to the sun - but unintentionally left my hat at home to go to the local animal shelter to find a dog for our home. We were out in the sun for a much longer period than I thought & now have a horrible sunburn on my face, neck. chest, around the eyes & I'm sure on top of my head - even under my bangs. I am 72 years old & have been fighting a skin condition the docs believed a reaction from sun & medications I take - but this is a doozy & of course it is Sat. night! Should I take this to the ER or just wait until Mon. & check with my doctor. I cannot sleep because it burns & itches so bad! I keep applying cold compresses. Any more suggestions for this "burner" on PST?

    • Treleven-Vilceus profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      great very informative thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      For me, sun poisoning is an annual occurrence ANY time I am exposed to sun even briefly. Last weekend I had an eruption on my left arm from having my car window down while driving! I believe my sensitivity began when I started taking blood pressure medication some years. Nothing seems to alleviate the outbreak though, just takes time. Believe me, I've tried everything over-the-counter, and a couple of prescriptions that my physician assured me would alleviate the rash (but did not work as well as non-prescriptions, at least for me).

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      its better to stay away from sun during noon

    • market solution profile image

      market solution 

      10 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Great informative hub. As a child, I was raised on a lake and quite literally lived in a swimsuit all summer. In my twenties (35 years ago!), I started getting a blistered rash every time I went out in the sun. I never treated it, but instinct told me it was not a good thing. Since then, my sun exposure has been kept to a minumum - with no more episodes. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.

    • jim10 profile image


      10 years ago from ma

      My wife gets little itchy red bumps whenever she goes out even just for a little while. Thanks for some of the possible causes.

    • psioni profile image


      10 years ago from Toronto

      Interesting hub. I was not aware of this condition, although I have noticed the warning on many prescriptions against increased sensitivity to sunlight.

    • amerikag profile image


      10 years ago

      well you should always contact your physician

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I got sun poisoning in high school. Went to the beach for spring break, fell asleep in the sun for 6 hours on my back. It was horrible. I had to be hospitalized and put in an ice bath to bring my temp down initially, then once had to be wrapped in a cooling blanket. My temperature when they got me to the hospital was 105. That's brain damage time. It's very painful for a long time after that. You have severe headaches, and nausea for days. I was in the hospital for 3 days in the burn unit, until they got my temperature down and my fluid levels back up, and then they sent me home with a large hairspray size can of benzocaine and some heavy duty painkillers. Not the OTC kind, the straight dope! I had second degree burns on 40% of my body, and when it peeled, it cracked like dry earth, and was so painful, they had to sedate me and pull it off. My skin was so sensitive for weeks and weeks that I couldn't go to school or wear anything. I just lay around with a sheet wrapped around me, because that's all I could stand on my skin.

      Years later, the doctor told me that he was surprised that I survived without brain damage, and that he was very concerned when I was first brought in, because I was totally out of it, didn't even know where I was.

      The most painful part was that the bottoms of my feet were burned, so I had to crawl around everywhere.

    • mahasson profile image


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub. I have to work out in the sun often and I am always wondering when I'm going to pay for it in a serious way. I always know I should wear sun screen, but never do. This was a very informative hub, thanks!

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      10 years ago from Central Oregon

      Another great and informative hub. I never stayed out in the sun getting a tan - much. I get a lot of freckles. Now I like them, but when I was younger - not so much. I'm glad now, it kept me out of the sun,when other girls were turning berry brown every summer (now they'll have to pay).

    • Listessa profile image


      10 years ago from Your Sub-conscious

      Wow, I didn't know any of this sun poisoning stuff - the sun's something I need to be careful of!

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment RAVI4ALL. A healthy sunscreen will definetely be effective against sun burn. However, there are many on the market that are not healthy. You can check it out by reading my hub

    • RAVI4ALL profile image


      10 years ago from India

      great, steve please also mention how much sun screen lotion application helps to prevent sun burns because people use to apply a very thin coat of the same that i think is not appropriate as per my studies are concerned. (please correct me if i am wrong)


    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      10 years ago from NW Indiana

      I bookmarked this for later reference. Thanks for writing such an informative hub on a subject that seems to be popping up every time I turn around. C.S.

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for sharing some of your insights and experiences Jed. You make an interesting observation when you mention that you have never known anyone who hasn't been exposed to the western diet to get sun poisoning.

    • jedgrey profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      Hi Ssteve,

      Like any good thing, it's easy to overdo. Sun is actually good for us in moderation but the junk we eat has a lot to do with exacerbating photosensitivity. According to William Douglass, M.D. we are actually short on vitamin D. Due to in part, to Solar Phobia. Races which spent years in the sun don't get any problems with exposure until they become westernized in their diets. I have lived and worked among such people and noticed that they had a very simple lifestyle including diet. Until the influence of the western culture came they ate mostly foods indigenous to the area. Skin problems just didn't exist. It's so easy to get caught up in a knee jerk reaction all too often by incomplete or "junk" science which was never a problem until recent years when our hurry up society became a victim of questionable marketing techniques aimed at making a fast buck rather than proper nutritin. On the other side of the coin, I've also seen severe cases of sun poisoning when I worked in the tropics, but never in the natives of the area. It is easy to get too much sun, especially us white folks who are sometimes obsessed with the tan more for fashion than health reasons.

      Keep up the good work, Steve

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for the great comments everyone!

    • magnoliazz profile image


      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      I see people bring their tiny babies to the local swimming pools, and I just cringe! It is bad enough to suffer sun poisoning as an adult, but for a child it can be deadly. I believe that any child under the age of 2 should not be in the sun at all, and as for adults, less is more. The number one cause of aging skin is the sun. This is a good hub because it brings awarness to the danger if too much sun. Is sun poisoning the same as sun stroke?

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting and informative. I too, am fair-skinned and never had a problem with the sun until one holiday when I had all the symptoms described. I never had a recurrence of the problem, although I coninued to go on the sun thereafter. I now limit my exposure and I have had melanomas removed on my forehead. i too believe the sun is stronger nowadays.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Interesting topic.

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment desert blondie and for the link.

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 

      10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Never knew about all the factors going on that can add to sun poisoning! Informative! And jamagenee's comment makes all this 'very real.' Thank goodness I'm a big fan of carrots and flax seeds in my daily salads. And here's more about vitamin C, such an important vitamin!

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment JamaGenee. I can appreciate that in your experience you did not have a rash with sun poisoning. Doctors and other medical authorities have stated that this is one of the symptoms that has been found in sun poisoning. Medical authorities also state as I mention in my hub that sun poisoning is an allergic reaction triggered by different sources. Eliminating those sources will eliminate the chance of allergic reaction and sun poisoning. Once sensitized it can recur more severly the next time if those problems are not corrected. I am not sure where you got your information that says once sensitized, the only way to prevent sun poisoning is to limit exposure to the sun period but it contradicts what is taught by medical authorities.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      10 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Steve, not to poo-poo your information, but I had sun poisoning once and was comatose on some friends' sofa for most of 3 days. Didn't do or use anything different from the many other times we'd spent a day at the lake. I simply happen to be very light-skinned, burn easily (even with sun block), and that particular day must've been the tipping point for my system. My friends were taking me home when one noticed I didn't look "right", and their house was closer. I was flushed and woozy, and when we got inside we noticed white spots on the front of my upper legs. NOT a rash but distinct spots an inch or so apart. The spots I learned later are the telltale sign of sun poisoning.

      Also learned I was very lucky...I should've been in a hospital for dehydration and electrolyte loss. As it was, my friends woke me every few hours and made me drink lots of fluid, then walked me to the bathroom. Oddly, my skin wasn't on fire as it normally would be with a sunburn.

      Once sensitized, the only way to prevent a recurrence of true sun poisoning is to limit exposure to the sun. Period.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Great reminder of what can happen. I think the sun is stronger these days. I too remember getting burned several times. So far not too bad, have had many removed from my face and arms. But not too bad.

      nowdays there seem to be more really bad melanomas (spelt wrong) than heard of in our day. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Lupo profile image


      10 years ago from Boston Area

      Whenever I read sun related health issues I can't help but think of my Mom telling me tales about my childhood. I spent my summers at the beach. My brothers and I ran around like crazy, all day, everydaywith nothing but shorts. It was inevitable that when we arrived down the shore at the beginning of the summer, we all got burned (or so I have been told).

      I don't remember getting burned every summer but I do remember it happening more than a few times. I'm not sure if we ever hit the point of getting full blown sun poisoning, as I don't recall any of getting as sick as it sounds like it can make you, but I do know every once in awhile one or more of us developed rashes.

      I also remember how everyone used to use copious amounts of coppertone - to enhance, not attenuate - the sunlight and maximize their tan.

      Little did any of us know..........

      Thanks for the informative hub!


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