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Sunburn (Sun Poisoning)

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Sunburn and sun poisoning facts

  • Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.
  • UV radiation damages the skin and also can damage the eyes.
  • UV rays are most intense at noon and the hours immediately before and after (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
  • Immediate symptoms of sunburn are hot, red, tender skin; pain when the skin is touched or rubbed; and dehydration; several days after exposure the skin may swell, blister, and peel.
  • Most sunburns are mild and can be treated with home remedies such as applying damp cloths or compresses to reduce the pain, soaking in a tepid bath (with no soap), gently patting the skin dry, applying soothing creams or lotions, OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol or others, and moisturizing the skin.
  • Sunburn may cause permanent skin damage and skin cancer (malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
  • UVB as well as UVA rays may cause damage to skin.
  • UV rays may bounce off water, sand, snow, and other surfaces.
  • Some types of skin tan after exposure to UV rays because after repeated or prolonged exposure to UV rays the skin produces more melanin.
  • Persons with certain pigment disorders and individuals with fair skin are at most risk of sunburn.
  • Certain diseases and conditions pose a higher risk of sunburn (for example, albinism, lupus, porphyrias, vitiligo, and xeroderma pigmentosum).
  • Some medications may increase sensitivity to sunburn (photosensitivity).
  • The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid long exposure to sunlight.
  • Sunscreen and sun-protective clothing are important measures to limit sun damage.
  • Apply sunscreen before going outdoors, apply it liberally, and re-apply frequently.
  • Sun poisoning is caused by severe sunburn; its symptoms include fever, nausea, chills, dizziness, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dehydration, and shock.
  • Heat stroke is a severe form of hyperthermia that is life-threatening.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2014


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