Sun poisoning is a common name for what is technically known as Photodermatitis. This can be considered as an aggravated possibility of sunburn. Sun is essential for human as it provides vitamin D which is essential and healthy for skin. However, if you stay in sun for long time, it may be hazardous. You may start experiencing itchiness, rashes or blisters. These are often called as sunburns. These are usually burn from UV rays or Ultraviolet radiation that emits from sun and reaches the earth. The condition is also sometimes called as photo allergy. Moderate exposure to sun is acceptable but too much exposure can be harmful. Sunburn or sun poisoning occurs due to excessive exposure to sun.
Prolonged and excessive exposure to intense UV rays from sun is the primary factor that causes sun poisoning. Sun poisoning is more common during hottest phase of summer when UV rays are extremely intense. The condition highly affects light-skinned individuals as their skin has low level of protective melanin pigments. This makes them more vulnerable to skin issues as compared to people with darker skin. Though over exposure to sun is the main reason for photodermatitis there may be other possible triggers as well. For example, risk of sun poisoning may increase when certain chemical, medications or cosmetics are used. Certain medications like sulfa-based drugs, tranquilizers, hypertension drugs, diabetes medicines, birth control pills and fungal infection medicines may trigger photodermatitis in combination with excessive exposure to sun. Use of some kind of detergents, facial creams, shampoos, deodorants, etc, followed by exposure to UV rays may also cause severe sun burn.
Sun poisoning often occurs due to reaction and there are two types of sun poisoning based of two different reaction types. PMLE or Polymorphous Light Eruption is the first kind of reaction which occurs when people accustomed to sunlight gets too much exposure of it. For example, people staying in north may suffer from such issue if they take a vacation to tropical zone. Another kind of sun poisoning is Solar Urticarial which is a rare condition that occurs due to exposure to sunlight or even ‘visible light’. Burns due to this condition may occur on both uncovered as well as covered region.
Symptoms of sun poisoning
Sun poisoning can be either internal or external. External reaction causes external skin changes due to sun which can be noticed visually. These are manifestation on the surface of skin. Internal sun poisoning occurs due to internal reactions and may lead to issues such as sun strokes, heat prostration and heat strokes, etc. These symptoms may occur also due to dehydration and deficiency of electrolytes in your body. The intensity of the symptoms may depend on exposure duration and tolerance level of your body. They may range from mild to serious. Some other associated symptoms may include:
- Redness of skin
- Sometimes itchy sensation
- Tenderness of affected skin
- Sometimes small or larger fluid filled blisters may occur
- Queasiness or vomiting
- Symptoms of flu
- Tremor or chills
Surplus exposure to sun can cause different type of deterioration of skin and damages to it. Sometimes due to dehydration people may also faint and become unconscious. Affected individuals may experience peeling or flaking of the skin in approximately a week. Premature aging may occur in severe cases causing condition such as wrinkling of skin, spots, etc. Sometimes the condition may even aggravate to skin cancer.
Treatment for sun poisoning
Photodermatitis may require a proper medical regimen with effective oral drugs in combination with topical solutions. Usually immune suppressants are suggested to patients suffering from sunburns, depending on the nature of complications experienced.
Symptoms can be controlled using medicines such as glucocorticoids. Certain anti-inflammatory medications such as hydroxychloroquine are also prescribed for ‘sun-poisoning’ victims. Former photodermatitis-specific medicines such as thalidomide are ill-suggested as they may cause birth defects. Photodermatitis can also be handled using treatments such as Phototherapy. This treatment includes skin desensitization through controlled light exposure which helps in suppressing the symptoms of the condition. Nevertheless, this treatment may not suit all patients.
Nutritional supplements may also help in treating the condition when opted in combination with medical regimen. Photodermatitis can be handled and managed in long term using certain nutrients found beneficial. These nutrients include:
- Niacin (B3 Vitamin)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Beta carotene
- Omega-3 fatty acids
There are readily available supplements which can supply these nutrients to your body. One can also complete his diet with foods rich with aforementioned nutrients. This would be difficult as one cannot determine the quantity and surety of deliverance of these nutrients to the body. This is why supplements are better preferred.
Prevention and Home remedies
Though it is a common suggestion to consult a doctor, one can also opt for home remedies if it is ruled-out that one is suffering from sun poisoning. Using cold compresses and cold water bath, every time after coming from sun, is highly recommended. Consumption of sufficient amount of fluid frequently throughout the day would help in avoiding dehydration. One can use over-the-counter electrolyte drinks or make a solution of sugar (1.5 tsp) and salt (1/2 tsp) in a glass of water and drink.
Avoid wearing uncomfortable and short-sleeves clothes in sun. Possibly use umbrella if you are going out in sun. Sunscreens are highly suggested for preventing adverse effects of sun exposure. Go for branded sunscreens with SPF (Sun Protecting Factor) at least equal to or above 30. By adopting these techniques sun poisoning can be prevented.