Sun Poisoning

With spring fast approaching, it is time again to plan for warmer weather and increased outdoor activities. Many of the winter-weary among us have spring break plans that include travel to much warmer destinations. After a long winter indoors and out of strong direct sunlight, exposing ourselves to tropical sun rays can have very serious consequences. Severe sunburn and sun poisoning are both threats that must be taken seriously by anyone expecting to be exposed to high levels of strong sunlight, especially after months spent primarily indoors. People with a lighter skin type or hair color are at greatest risk of adverse effects from sun exposure. Additionally, many common medications can increase the risk of adverse sun exposure reaction.

Severe sunburn and sun poisoning can cause very red, painful, itchy, swollen or even blistered skin. Bumpy rashes may develop on the most sun-exposed areas. More serious cases may include systemic symptoms such as fever and chills, nausea, headache, dizziness, and dehydration. The treatment of severe sunburn and sun poisoning includes avoiding direct sunlight, taking a cool shower or bath, applying cool compresses, drinking extra water, taking pain medication, and possibly using topical or oral steroids. People with severe symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Of course, prevention is the best approach to dealing with the threat of sunburn and sun poisoning.

Applying a high quality UVA/UVB sunblock with an SPF of 30 or greater is essential for blocking the sun’s damaging effect. Sunblocks containing zinc oxide are preferred. Apply sunblock 15-30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and reapply every two hours or after water exposure. skinfo® stocks many excellent broad-spectrum sunblocks including a line by Elta MD. Formulated with an ultra-durable form of zinc oxide, Elta MD sunblocks provide superior long-lasting protection from the sun. In addition to applying sunblock, try to limit sun exposure during peak hours while the sun is more directly overhead. Also, ask us about Heliocare, an oral dietary supplement to help maintain the skin’s ability to protect against sun damage. Heliocare stops free radicals before they damage cell proteins and protects cell DNA when you take one tablet 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Lastly, consider wearing UV protective clothing as a very easy and effective way to reduce excessive sun exposure. skinfo® also stocks UV protective clothing to help you safely enjoy your time outdoors.