Is Your Sunburn More than a Sunburn?

By Sara Butler

Many people have been there -- too much time in the sun is spent and your skin feels tight, tender, and is blisteringly hot to the touch. Oh, and it’s painfully red too. Sunburns sometimes happen even if you take precautions in the sun, especially if you don’t reapply sunscreen every two hours like you should. But there is a chance your sunburn could turn into something much worse, something called sun poisoning. Here’s what you need to know about sun poisoning and what you should do if you suspect you have it.

What is Sun Poisoning Anyway?

Sun poisoning is used to describe a sunburn -- a really bad one that is the result of prolonged exposure to UV rays. It’s usually not something diagnosed by a doctor -- you won’t find any mention of sun poisoning in a dermatology textbook. But that doesn’t mean that what laypeople refer to as sun poisoning isn’t a real thing.

Basically, sun poisoning occurs when exposure to the sun triggers a flu-like reaction. It can occur up to 72 hours after your exposure and it’s different than a sunburn.

The Difference in Symptoms

When you have a sunburn, you find your skin is inflamed, tender, and red about 30 minutes after sun exposure all the way up to 24 hours after exposure. If your sunburn is severe, you may notice blistering in the first day or two after.

With sun poisoning, you’ll have all the normal symptoms of a sunburn along with:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Dehydration
  • Malaise

Who Gets Sun Poisoning?

While anyone can get it, some people are more prone to it than others. If you have a family history of skin cancer, take certain medications, and are fair skinned, then you may be more likely to suffer from this ailment. So, make sure to take the proper precautions when you’re out in the sun by applying sunblock and reapplying it every couple of hours.

If You Have Sun Poisoning

If you suspect you have sun poisoning, there are a few things you can do to help find relief. You should:

  • Use cool compresses or soak in cool water
  • Apply thick moisturizer or aloe vera
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water
  • If necessary, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as tea tree oil to help relieve discomfort

If you feel your symptoms are getting worse and you feel dizzy, faint, have heart palpitations, or experience a drop in blood pressure, then seek medical help.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Queen Creek, Ariz.

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