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Skin Care and Diseases

Sun burn

03/20/2006

Question:

hi, what are the symptons of sun poison? went to the beach on 5 days ago and im still sun burn to the point that i can not touch my skin, its like my chest is oon fire.

Answer:

It sounds like you have a severe sunburn. Usually time will resolve all the symptoms. However, since the symptoms have been around for more than 48 hours you may need to go see your doctor. If you have no other health issues over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Tylenol will help relieve some of the symptoms. Cool compresses or baths will take away some of the heat. It you have blisters try not to pop them to prevent possible infection. In the future, sunblock, protective clothing and a hat will help prevent you from going through this again. A really bad sunburn is not sun poisoning, just too much sun exposure. True sun poisoning is is called Solar Urticaria. It is a rare reaction to sun exposure. This is a true sun allergy. It develops rapidly--moments after exposure, the skin begins to itch, and then becomes red with wheals (red patches) or vesicles (bumps). The actual mechanism that causes this reaction is unknown, however, antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are effective in treating the reactions of some patients and will relieve some of the itching. Again, check with your doctor before taking any medication.

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Response by:

Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University