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Sun Poisoning: Symptoms, Harms and Treatments

By DEVIKA BANDYOPADHYA

With the rising temperature this summer, you surely need to think beyond cool drinks, tanned selfies and swimming in cold water. With the multiple discomforts that each one of us face as the sun keeps blazing hot, it is time that we understand and recognize the health issues that can occur if health condition during summers is neglected. Despite the fact that you might love the summer season, exposing yourself to the sun for longer periods of time can do a lot of harm to your body.

Recent news that hit the headlines was that of Holly Barrington, a 20-year-old from the UK, who was holidaying in Spain. She apparently spent a lot of time exposed to the sun. What happened next was beyond her imagination. In spite of using sun protection cream and a UV protection sunglass, when she was out under the sun, she suffered something known as sun poisoning, which was diagnosed by the doctors whom she approached with a swelled face, to an extent where she was even unable to open her eyes.

sun poisoning face swelling

According to the statement given by Holy Barrington, her face did not swell when she was out in the sun. She actually did not even feel the burn when exposed outside. However, the swelling started when she returned to her room and took a shower.

What Is Sun Poisoning?

Do not mistake the term "poisoning" for its literal meaning. Sun poisoning, though it is termed this way, does not associate itself to "poison" as such. Sun poisoning is a condition that is a result of severe sunburn. This is caused when you expose yourself to the ultraviolet rays of the sun for a very long time at a stretch. Unlike mild sunburns, which vanish on its own, sun poisoning requires medical intervention.

Symptoms Of Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning begins with the usual symptoms of sunburn. The signs of sunburn can begin to appear within 6 to 12 hours of exposure to ultraviolet rays. When you suffer from mild sunburn, the symptoms are pain, swelling and redness on the exposed areas, especially the face. Such a condition heals on its own and will not require the intake of medicines or the use of tropical ointments. To soothe your skin post mild sunburn, you can take a cold water shower or apply aloe vera gel on the affected areas. A severe case of sunburn is called sun poisoning and the symptoms usually are blisters, high fever, immense pain, headache, extreme redness, nausea, dehydration and dizziness.

Who Are At Risk Of Sun Poisoning?

People who do not use any form of sun protection before going out in the sun are at an extreme risk of being subjected to sun poisoning. Moreover, people taking oral contraceptives, antibiotics or using certain herbal supplements are at a higher risk of being subjected to sun poisoning. Also, people with a fair complexion and those with a family history of skin cancer are more likely to face issues of sun poisoning.

Harms Of Sun Poisoning

Surely being diagnosed with sun poisoning is no fun. Being diagnosed with sun poisoning means you will face severe pain for almost up to a week following the exposure to sun. Sun poisoning can be fatal in some cases as well. Extreme exposure to the harmful UV rays can lead to damage of the

Diagnosis And Treatment

If you happen to be exposed to the sun for a very long period of time and suffer from the symptoms later on, you should definitely seek medical help immediately. Delaying medical intervention can lead to fatal effects of sun poisoning.

When diagnosing the severity of sun poisoning, your skin specialist would suggest creams, lotions and antibiotics. You will also be advised to drink plenty of water. Water in ample amounts can help your skin regain the lost moisture. If there are serious blisters, which are painful, it would require the use of steroid creams. Dehydration due to sun poisoning will need intravenous fluids. Topical antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection on the affected area. Oral steroids are given to reduce the swelling and pain.

To avoid life-threatening complications, it is advised that you seek medical help as soon as you begin to observe symptoms of sun poisoning. Avoid over-the-counter medication, because if not right, they could worsen your condition.

Preventing Sun Poisoning

No matter how much you wish to expose yourself out under the sun, ensure that you do not stay out for too long. Irrespective of the time of the day, make certain that you use a good sun protection.
Always apply a good sunscreen before you step out of your house. Never leave your ultraviolet protected glares behind. According to the recommendations of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one should use a sunscreen of minimum 30 SPF. If you tend to sweat a lot or have gone swimming, then re-apply the sunscreen before you step out.

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Ultraviolet radiation also increases the chances of a person developing cataracts. UV rays can also destroy DNA. Melanoma, a fatal type of skin cancer, is associated with repeated exposure to extreme UV light.

Read more about: skincare
Story first published: Friday, April 13, 2018, 7:30 [IST]
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