Sun Poisoning Rash

Sun poisoning is a term used to describe a case of severe sunburn. It typically refers to inflammation or burning of the skin along with the occasional development of sun poisoning rash due to excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun. It has no relation to any type of poisoning of the body by the sunlight.

Types of sun poisoning rash

Sun poisoning rash can occur due to 2 kinds of reactions or responses of the skin towards prolonged contact with sunlight. They are polymorphous light eruption and solar urticaria.

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  1. PMLE/Polymorphous Light Eruption associated sun poisoning rash
  • Polymorphous light eruption is a type of skin poisoning rash experienced by individuals with hypersensitivity to sunlight. It can also occur in individuals who are not used to prolonged contact with sunlight, such as those living in colder regions or high altitudes. There is no known association of PMLE with the presence of any other underlying ailments or the consumption of medications.
  • Individuals may develop a PMLE associated sun poisoning rash after exposure to sunlight for a few hours. It may also be accompanied by the below listed signs and symptoms:
    • The sun poisoning rash may be itchy.
    • The exposed parts of the skin may develop small bumps which may form in thick bunches or clusters.
    • The chest, legs, and arms may experience the formation of hives.
  • An inherited form of PMLE associated sun poisoning rash may affect Native Americans, often between spring and fall seasons. The rash may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as itchiness, burning sensations, and redness, etc. These symptoms may continue for some days or even weeks. Other uncommon symptoms like chills, fatigue, nausea, and headache tend to last for just a few hours.
  • Treatment: PMLE associated sun poisoning rash clears out on its own in 7 to 11 days. Affected individuals however need to follow certain self-care guidelines such as staying indoors in cool environments, and/or wearing sufficient protective cover like sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc. when going outside.
  1. Solar urticaria associated sun poisoning rash
  • Patients with this type of sun poisoning rash may experience the associated signs and symptoms after just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight.
  • Development of rashes and other symptoms over large sections of the skin may cause the following symptoms:
    • Formation of blisters on the skin
    • Increased redness of the skin in and around a sun poisoning rash
    • Appearance of sun poisoning rash that looks like wheals or elevated bumps.
    • Fainting or near fainting
    • Wheezing
    • Dizziness
    • Itchiness
  • Treatment: The sun poisoning rash and blisters clear out on their own in some hours without any medical treatment. Patients may however suffer from recurrent episodes of the rash for many years. Mild symptoms of solar urticaria can be managed via antihistamines, but serious cases will require the attention of a doctor.

Doctors may also prescribe the use of steroid creams or PUVA light therapy to treat PMLE as well as solar urticaria types of sun poisoning rash.

Others unclassified forms of sun poisoning rash

It is possible for human beings to feel the adverse effects of UV light and develop sun poisoning rash after being under the sun for just 16 minutes. However, affected individuals may not be aware of this fact at that very moment. Varied adverse symptoms such as discomfort, redness of skin, and formation of sun poisoning rash may appear only a few hours after the skin suffers from a sunburn.

Individuals prone to spending several hours under the sun without the any kind of protection are more likely to suffer from severe instances of sun poisoning rash. Also, people with light skin and hair are at greater risk to developing sunburn as compared to others.

Severe instances of sun poisoning rash may be accompanied by the below listed additional signs and symptoms:

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  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Tingling or painful sensation on the affected skin
  • Formation of blisters
  • Redness of the skin
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Dehydration

Treatment of sun poisoning rash

Immediate medical attention is necessary if sun poisoning rash occurs along with the below listed symptoms:

  • A sunburn that causes extreme pain, affects a large section of the skin, and/or causes blister formation on the skin.
  • Occurrence of severe dehydration, headaches, disorientation, digestive problems, fever with or without chills, and facial swelling.

Follow the below listed treatment options, self-care guidelines, and home remedies to find relief from the symptoms of sun poisoning rash:

  • Over the counter pain killers can help alleviate pain
  • Mild moisturizers and/or aloe vera gel can soothe the rashes
  • Keep the body hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water and other liquids.
  • Avoid going outdoors or contact with sunlight for some days. If going out cannot be avoided, then ensure that the sunburnt areas are protected with clothing and other means.
  • Take cool showers or baths. Avoid cold showers or baths. Use of cool compresses is also helpful.

The below listed safety measures can help prevent future cases of sun poisoning rash. These are especially useful for people who are prone to getting sunburnt.

  • The sunshine is at its brightest and the sun rays are at their most intense between 10 in the morning and 2 in the noon. Hence, stay indoors during this period. Snow, water, and sand tend to magnify the intensity of UV rays. Hence, avoid them.
  • Wear sufficient amount of protection, including hats, sunglasses, etc. when going outdoors during the day. Also, use wide spectrum sunscreens with at least 30 SPF on the exposed parts of the skin as well as on those affected by sun poisoning rash. It will protect the skin against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. Apply the lotion about 20 minutes before venturing outdoors. Reapply the sunscreen after every 2 to 3 hours, or after increased sweating, or swimming.
  • Varied medications such as certain antibiotics, diuretics, birth control pills/oral contraceptives, antidepressants, acne treatment drugs, and cardiac medications may cause photosensitivity as a side effect. Verify the side effects of these drugs, if you currently use them or are planning to take them.

Sun Poisoning Rash – Pictures

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