Soaking up the sun is one of the pleasures of the warmer weather, but, while sunshine can be good for our health and wellbeing, it's important to remember that too much of a good thing can be harmful. Sun poisoning, aka sunburn on steroids, is a severe form of sunburn that can cause really uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms.
In this blog, we’ll explore the symptoms of sun poisoning, its causes and risk factors and how to prevent it. So, whether you're planning a day at the beach or just running errands in the sun, keep reading and take some notes so you can stay healthy and happy all summer long!
Sun poisoning is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation - spending a long period of time in the sun without adequate protection, whether it is wearing sunscreen protection or protective clothing-.
The symptoms usually appear within hours of the sun exposure and they can last for several days before completely disappearing. It usually presents itself as an itchy rash which, depending on how severe is, can have different symptoms such as:
- Skin redness
- Pain and tingling
- Swelling and itching
- Dizziness and confusion
As sun poisoning is caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation, anyone who spends too much time in the sun with the appropriate protection can get it. However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk, including the following ones:
Fair skin: People with fair skin are more likely to get sun poisoning as they have less melanin in their skin to protect against UV damage.
Certain skin conditions or diseases. For example Lupus, a skin disease that has as one of its symptoms photosensitivity, some types of eczema that are are exacerbated by exposure to sunlight -photosensitive eczema- or Polymorphous Light Eruption, a skin disorder in which people can only tolerate very short amounts of exposure to sunlight.
Medications: Certain medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, including antibiotics, diuretics, some acne medications, antihistamines, some birth control, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.
- Location: People who live closer to the equator or at higher altitudes are more likely to get sunburnt as the UV rays are stronger. Also, being exposed to sunlight reflected from snow, sand or water will increase the risk.
Sun poisoning treatment
The treatment is going to depend on how severe the sun poisoning is. While some home remedies might be enough to lessen the pain in some cases, the more severe ones might need medical care.
At-home care includes:
- Hydrating the body: Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate your body for a few days.
- Cooling the skin: Apply cool compresses or take a cool bath to soothe the skin and help reduce inflammation.It’s important that you use cool water, not cold, as it could in fact damage your skin further by drying it out
- Pain relief: Take some over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation
- Cover the sunburnt areas completely when going outside. Completely cover sunburned areas when going outside.
Topical treatments: Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can help reduce itching and inflammation. It is also recommended to use creams or moisturizers with natural shooting ingredients such as aloe. The Hydrating Aloe Mist from Hampton Sun, is a Hydrating Mist with cooling menthol is the perfect way to replenish moisture and soothe skin with an invigorating, refreshing spray.
The Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion ultra-moisturizing and deep-soothing lotion that uses organic Agave’s natural moisture binding mechanisms for environmental defense and calming sunburn.
In severe cases -if you are suffering from facial swelling, fever, headaches or blisters that cover a large area- medical attention may be needed. In these cases, doctors might prescribe corticosteroids, antibiotics to prevent infection, steroid creams for burns or other medications to treat the symptoms of sun poisoning.
How to prevent it
To avoid getting sun poisoning -or sunburn- you just need to follow the 3 basics of sun safety:
1. Stay out of the sun or limit your time outside during the hottest hours of the day -between 10am and 4 pm- when the V Rays are strongest.
2. Use sunscreen -even on cloudy days and specially if you are part of the groups included in the risk factors. Make sure it is at least SPF 30, broad spectrum (which means that it protects against sun’s UVA and UVB rays) and water-resistant and reapply every few hours.
Coola has a line of organic sunscreen with a ultra-sheer formula for water-resistant broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection any time, anywhere. The best part? You have a lot of different refreshingly natural scents to choose from!
The Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 - Piña Colada or the Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray with Guava Mango SPF 50. Or you can choose the Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 - Cucumber, sun protection and moisturizer in one.
In conclusion, sun poisoning is a serious condition that can cause discomfort and even lead to long-term damage to the skin. It's essential to protect yourself from the sun and it is actually really easy -just three basic rules-. By being proactive and taking care of your skin, you can enjoy the benefits of the sun safely and without the risks of sun poisoning. Don’t let the sun ruin your fun!