It is a long-time tradition for people to enjoy the summer days by doing numerous outdoor activities. However, prolonged sun exposure can have detrimental effects, especially on the skin. Anyone can experience sun poisoning. However, it is more prevalent during the summer season.
For those who have experienced sunburn, you may think that it is already a serious kind of skin damage. However, sun poisoning is actually worse since its symptoms are more severe. Furthermore, because of insufficient melanin, people with fair and sensitive skin have a higher risk of acquiring this condition. Sun exposure longer than 15 minutes may lead to sun poisoning.
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned below, it is vital to seek medical attention. If this skin condition is not treated immediately, it may lead to skin cancer.
What are Symptoms of Sun Poisoning?
Like sunburn, sun poisoning has symptoms such as skin redness, irritation, a tingling sensation, and skin peeling. However, it has other symptoms, which includes the following:
- Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE)
PMLE is a reaction wherein small bumps appear in the part of the skin that was exposed to the UV rays. The affected area may also feel itchy that can last for about 3 days before it disappears.
- Rapid Heartbeat
A rapid heartbeat or pulse is common in sun poisoning. The main reason for this is due to dehydration and panic. It is vital to seek medical attention if your pulse is fast.
Once a rapid heartbeat is felt, some people may also experience rapid breathing or hyperventilation. In most cases, this is due to panic. As much as possible, you have to stay calm if you are experiencing sun poisoning.
- Heat Cramps
Described as a sudden muscle contraction accompanied by pain, heat cramps is a common symptom of heat illnesses. The best remedy for this condition is hydration or drinking plenty of fluids and rest.
Prolonged sun exposure can make you physically and mentally tired due to dehydration. Aside from fatigue, you may also experience joint pain, headache, and chills. It is important to rest if you feel exhausted. Only stand up, once you have regained your strength.
- Blisters and Inflammation
When the UV rays start to poison your skin, you will feel a burning sensation followed by blisters. The formation of small pockets filled with fluids occurs to prevent further skin damage and for repair. It is vital not to pop or break your blisters to avoid infection. Your skin may also swell during sun poisoning.
- Heat Stroke
Once your body temperature reaches 104°F, your will overheat and heat stroke will occur. Immediate medical attention is imperative once your body overheats since it is a life-threatening condition. Delayed treatment can lead to a damaged brain, muscles, kidneys, and heart.
Sun poisoning can also cause vomiting. This can exacerbate dehydration. This is another reason it is important to drink fluids containing electrolytes.
Dehydration is common during a hot weather due to excessive sweating. During sun poisoning, fainting is one of the first things that may happen. Once you have regained consciousness, it is vital to rehydrate.
The brain is very susceptible to UV rays because these rays can penetrate the skull. If you feel disoriented or confused during prolonged sun exposure, it is a clear sign that the brain have received excessive amount of UV rays. To avoid this, you should always wear a hat when going outdoors.
How Long does Sun Poisoning Last?
Factors such as the organs affected and the severity of the condition will affect the duration of the healing process of sun burn.
- Overall Symptoms
Generally, symptoms of sun poisoning will start to appear after 30 minutes of sun exposure. The pain will start to manifest after 6 hours and could last for 2 days. For mild cases, the symptoms will start to disappear after 3 days. In severe cases, the healing period can last for 10 or more days.
Rashes caused by sun poisoning can last up to 3 days. In the beginning, the rash looks like tiny pimples. As the condition progresses, there will be swelling and redness. You can apply a calamine lotion or take anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the pain and swelling.
Soreness or swelling can last for 24 hours. Some medication such ibuprofen and corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation. You should never apply oily products such as petroleum jelly on the affected area since it can aggravate the condition. You should also wear loose clothes for comfort.
Typically, the pain will subside after 24 hours for mild cases and 2 days for severe cases. A cold compress can help ease the pain, swelling, and burning sensation.
Home Remedies for Sun Poisoning
- Bathe in Cold Water
Dipping yourself in cool water can help soothe inflammation. You can also add a few drops of essential oils such as chamomile or lavender in the water for a relaxing bath.
- Aloe Vera
An aloe vera can offer a cool and soothing effect for burns and itchy skin. You can apply the gel on the affected area two to three times a day. For best results, only use leaves that are freshly cut.
Cucumbers have the ability to draw heat in your skin and ease your discomforts. This is also true for onions and potato peels. You can use any of these products for the treatment of sun poisoning.
Milk is good for damaged skin. Cold milk can help reduce swelling and ease the pain. To use this remedy, you can dip a cotton ball in cold milk, gently dab it on the affected area for about 30 minutes and rinse.
Honey will not only reduce irritation and swelling, it can also prevent an infection. You can add basil leaves or turmeric powder with honey for a more potent mixture.
Yogurt has live microorganisms that can help prevent an infection. Applying ample amounts of yogurt on the sun-damaged area may also help reduce the pain and swelling. It can also aid in the healing process of the sun-damaged skin.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda is a good remedy for rashes and pain. To use this remedy, you can mix baking soda with a few drops of sterile water to make a paste. You can apply the paste on the affected area to reap its therapeutic benefits.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar can offer numerous benefits. It possesses healing properties and can offer comfort. It can also restore the skin’s natural pH. You can use this remedy by mixing 2 spoonfuls of ACV in the same amount of water and apply it on the sun-damaged skin.