What Does Sun Poisoning Look Like?


When you’re trying to figure out whether you might have sun poisoning, naturally one of the first things you’re going to ask yourself is what sun poisoning looks like and whether that rash on your body matches the description or not. Sun poisoning can vary a great deal in appearance depending on the type of sunburn you have and the severity of your symptoms and may be fairly mundane or rather dramatic.

If you have what looks like just a really bad sunburn, you could have sun poisoning. The most basic and common form literally is just a severe sunburn. Severely sunburned skin will appear very red and may include blisters or peeling skin. If the red or blistered areas feel painful or tingle, that can be another indication that you have sun poisoning. Of course you haven’t literally been poisoned, so you should feel reassured by that. If you have other symptoms like dizziness, headache, fever or nausea, it’s even more likely you have got this condition. Thankfully, in most cases you can recover from this fairly quickly on your own just by getting out of the sun and getting yourself cooled down and hydrated. Try cool compresses or a cool shower or bath to alleviate your symptoms, and then put Aloe Vera on your afflicted areas. Cover up completely next time you head out of the house on a bright day. Use an umbrella or hat if you have burned your face. Drink extra fluids for several days.

Another form of sun poisoning, polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), affects 1 in 10 Americans and is characterized by different symptoms. Look for a red rash which appears within a half hour to several hours of sun exposure. The rash may or may not be itchy and could also include dense clusters of bumps. You may develop bumps all over your body, or hives on your arms, lower legs or chest. You may also experience chills, headache, nausea, or fatigue. PMLE rashes usually clear up in about 10 days, and can be treated at home in most cases using the same techniques discussed above.

Solar urticaria, or sun allergy, is the rarest form and usually the most severe. Your sun poisoning may display as itchy red patches of skin with wheals or blisters (most blisters clear up within hours). Other symptoms can include wheezing, dizziness, or fainting. If you experience any symptoms of sun poisoning which are very severe or do not subside in a reasonable amount of time, you should see a doctor. Hospitalization is rarely necessary but in extreme cases you may need help. It’s always good to get a medical opinion from a qualified physician just to be safe if you feel uncertain. If your rash doesn’t match the descriptions above, you may not have sun poisoning at all and may require medical attention for another condition as well—so do some more research and go see a doctor if that’s the case.

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