Sun Poisoning Different Than A Sunburn

Getting sunburnt after a long day in the sun is a normal thing most people try to avoid.  When you get a severe sunburn that doesn’t resolve in a day or two you may actually have gotten sun poisoning.  Sun poisoning does sound kind of made up but it is a true thing that can actually have some severe complications if left untreated.  Different from a normal sunburn, sun poisoning usually does require some medical attention.


The main difference that you can tell if you have sun poisoning rather than just a normal sunburn is the symptoms.  The symptoms of a sunburn may be present, but they will last much longer.  Sun poisoning can last up to a few weeks to heal properly.  You may also experience symptoms that can reflect a flu.  Such as headache, fever, chills, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.  This sometimes is why some people won’t know that they have sun poisoning right away.  Some other symptoms you can have is skin redness, blistering, or peeling, pain or tingling on the skin, swelling, fainting, shortness of breath, hyperpigmentation, skin bumps that look like hives and may be itchy.


Risk Factors

The cause of sun poisoning is unknown.  Though there are some people who just seem more prone to get than other people.  There are some things though that can cause you to have extra sensitivity to UV rays, causing your skin to be more sensitive, which could lead to a higher risk of getting sun poisoning.  One of these things is already having a skin condition such as eczema or lupus.  Certain medications can also cause you to be more sensitive to UV rays, such as oral contraceptives.  People with fair, light skin, light hair, or blue or green eyes are also in the category of higher risk.  If you work outside, sun poisoning can actually be called an occupational hazard.  Living in higher altitudes, or nearer the equator can also put you at higher risk.  Even if you have some of these risk factors does not mean you will ever suffer from sun poisoning, sometimes it just doesn’t affect certain people.



Treatment of sun poisoning is key.  If left untreated some serious complications can arise.  One being dehydration.  Dehydration can escalade quickly.  If you aren’t given the proper fluids for your body, your body could start shutting down.  Infection can happen if your skin blisters, and is left untreated.  Infections can then spread through your body also causing your organs and systems to shut down if not treated appropriately.  Sun poisoning can also lead to premature wrinkles, skin spots, and can cause you to have a higher risk of skin cancer.

Unlike a sunburn that in a day or two with some aloe, lotion and staying out of the sun you feel much better.  Sun poisoning can sometimes cause your skin to blister up.  The first thing to do is to get out of the sun immediately.  Take a cool shower with cool water if possible.  If your skin is too sensitive to shower, then try wrapping your skin with cool compresses.  Start hydrating immediately.  If you can’t get your body hydrated you may need to go to the hospital to have an IV put in for fluids.  Sun poisoning can cause pain, headaches, and fever so you may want to take some over the counter pain relief such as Tylenol.  Apply aloe and moisturizer on the affected skin to help provide relief.  If you have to go outside make sure you keep your skin covered so that it doesn’t get any more sun exposure until fully healed.

It very likely could be sun poisoning if you experience blisters, facial swelling, fever and chills, upset stomach, headache, confusion, faintness, signs of dehydration you need to seek medical attention immediately.  The doctors will give you IV fluids to get you hydrated, provide topical antibiotics for you to put on the infected skin, steroid creams for your skin, and oral steroids in case over the counter pain relief isn’t working to relieve your pain.

If treated properly you should recover in a few weeks time with no lasting complications.



To try to prevent sun poisoning read up on what medications you are taking to see if it can cause sun sensitivity.  Wear sunscreen when you are outside, even if it is a cloudy day you can still get UV rays.  Also try to avoid the hottest part of the day when the sun is at its strongest.  Make sure you wear a hat, sunglasses, and other clothing that provides protection from the sun.  Avoid tanning beds, these too can cause sun poisoning.


Final Thoughts

Though not everyone is at risk of sun poisoning it does affect some.  Instead of taking a chance to see if you are one of these people, try to do proper sun protection to limit the chances of you getting sun poisoning.  If you end up in the sun for too long and have flu-like symptoms or your skin is blistering, you will want to seek medical attention immediately.  Left untreated sun poisoning can cause harm.

It very likely could be sun poisoning if you experience blisters, facial swelling, fever and chills, upset stomach, headache, confusion, faintness, signs of dehydration you need to seek medical attention immediately.


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