The Signs Of Sun Poisoning To Look Out For If A Person Has Bad Sunburn

We’ve all been there: spend a little too long out in the sun, and before you know it, you’ve turned bright red. Usually, you can chalk it up to a rookie error and vow to lie in the shade in future. Or at least promise to use more sunscreen. Occasionally, though, the end result isn’t mere sunburn. No, it can actually be something far more serious: sun poisoning. And in rare cases, recognizing its warning signs can be the difference between living and dying.

There’s no denying that it’s great to be out in the sun. You only need look to the very existence of seasonal affective disorder (or “SAD”) for the proof. Indeed, many people find themselves feeling more depressed in the winter months, which may be connected to a relative lack of sunlight. That’s because sunlight increases your level of serotonin. Without it, you’ll experience a drop, which can cause depression.

Of course, there are also the more basic benefits of increased sunlight. Topping up on vitamin D keeps your bones healthy. And moderate exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can also decrease your risk of certain cancers, including prostate and pancreatic. The World Health Organization also maintains that sunlight can help treat skin problems including acne and eczema.

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There are also dangers associated with sunlight, however. Primarily, staying out in it too long. And yet, many people still don’t take the damage that the sun can do all that seriously. According to the NHS, the majority of people fail to use the correct amount of sunscreen when spending time in the sun.

The consequences of this can be as simple as sunburn, where your skin will turn red, sore and sometimes flake. While a single bout of sunburn will normally clear in around a week, the long-term effects, however, can be severe. Indeed, a 2014 study found that getting sun-burnt in your teens can dramatically increase, by up to 80 percent, the chances of skin cancer as an adult.

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However, even the short-term effects of prolonged exposure to the sun can be damaging. That’s where sun poisoning comes in. A more severe form of sunburn, it’s a relatively rare condition. But it’s one that can have significant, and potentially deadly, consequences, so being able to identify it can be hugely important.

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Indeed, because the symptoms of sun poisoning are so similar to those of sunburn, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. But if you get it wrong and don’t take the proper steps for treatment, you could end up having an even worse time of things. There are, however, a few warning signs that can specifically point to a case of sun poisoning.

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10. You feel like you have the flu

If you start feeling sniffy or achy after spending time in the summer sun, then you probably already know something’s wrong. After all, winter is still way off. “When the skin is damaged by U.V. rays, it releases chemicals that basically turn on the immune system. [It] makes you feel like you’ve got the flu,” dermatologist John Anthony told Reader’s Digest in May 2018.

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9. Your skin prickles

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Touching sun-burnt skin is nobody’s favorite pastime, but it pales in comparison to sun poisoned skin. Indeed, it goes from being merely uncomfortable to unbearably painful, even if something as soft as clothing touches the affected area. Soothing treatments such as aloe vera or a cold shower can, thankfully, offer some temporary relief from the pain.

8. You feel dizzy or lightheaded

If you’re feeling particularly dizzy or lightheaded after a long time in the sunshine, then you may have done more damage to yourself than simple sunburn. Indeed, the dehydration caused by extended exposure to the sun can absolutely wreak havoc with your head. And in those cases, you may well have sun poisoning.

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7. Your skin blisters

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In the immediate term, few symptoms are worse than your skin blistering. After all, not only does it point to the diagnosis of sun poisoning, but the blisters themselves are going to be incredibly painful. There’s a real chance, meannwhile, that they can get infected, because they’re basically open sores. You’ll want to treat them immediately, then, using aloe vera – and perhaps even see a doctor.

6. You’re dehydrated

A day in the sun can leave you seriously low on fluids, so it’s important to re-hydrate with water as quickly as possible. “A lot of these symptoms can be caused by a combination of too much sun and dehydration,” Anthony said. Indeed, loss of fluids can lead to some of the other symptoms listed here, making it a major concern.

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5. You have a headache

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Once again, a headache is a symptom potentially caused by severe dehydration from being out in the sun all day. Indeed, if you have a headache, it can be a flashing warning sign for sun poisoning. It’s a markedly different experience to simple sunburn, after all, the consequences of which are usually limited to your skin.

4. You experience rashes

As well as blisters on your skin, there’s another distinctive feature of sun-poisoned, versus simply sunburned skin. While they’re both bright, “lobster” red, sun-poisoned skin can result in rashes. According to dermatologist Mary L. Stevenson, these rashes are “abnormal skin responses to sun exposure,” so they’re definitely not something you should just ignore.

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3. You have joint pain

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While not technically “poisoning” in the literal sense of the word, sun poisoning is still something that you should be concerned about if you have it. And another, non-skin-based symptom that might alert you to it is joint pain. Yes, if your joints are giving you grief following time spent out in the sun, there may be a reason.

2. Your skin gets darker

While sun-poisoned skin can turn bright red, just like with regular sunburn, it can also turn a much darker shade. This is thanks to a process called “hyperpigmentation,” according to the site Medical News Today, and is a surefire sign of sun poisoning. It’s worth comparing the color of the affected area, then, with more normally sun-burnt skin.

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1. You’re experiencing malaise

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Above all else, you just might not be able to specifically pinpoint the reason why you feel so unwell. In effect, you have a general feeling of malaise. If it’s come about after spending a day in the sun, then it’s definitely worth getting checked out. After all, you may just have sun poisoning.

You’re at a much greater risk of sunburn when the sun is highest in the sky, from late morning to early afternoon. This is when the sun’s rays are strongest, so you’ll need to take extra precautions if you’re out during those hours. That said, it’s still possible to get sun-burnt when it’s cloudy, and even from snow, which can reflect sunlight.

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Helpfully, staying safe in the sun is actually very easy.You can opt for clothes that protect your skin from being exposed to ultraviolet rays for too long, such as long-sleeved tops and wide-brimmed hats, for instance. Sunscreen is essential – just remember to reapply it every couple of hours. Sunglasses can also help protect your eyes from harmful U.V. rays.

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Taking these precautions, then, can help you avoid sun poisoning altogether. But just in case you do underestimate the level of protection you need, there are at least plenty of easy-to-spot warning signs that can alert you to sunburn’s more severe relative. You just need to know what to look for.

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