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Skin Care and Diseases

Sun poisoning

04/09/2007

Question:

I have red rashes that have come up on my face and do not know what they are. I got them at the beach. Monday I got to the beach stayed in the sun for six hours and the next morning my forhead and my chin started itching and a couple hours later it was red and blotchy. Now I`m peeling on my face and it`s red but it doesn`t itch anymore. I have tried using cleansers but it doesn`t change anything. When I use alchohal it burns so I have stoped using it. My parents said it could be sun poisoning. I ca not tell whether it is sun poisoning or just ahcne. Do you know?

Answer:

It sounds like you may have sun poisoning. The type you may have is called Polymorphous Light Eruption and looks like a skin rash. Women are more likely to get this than men. It occurs in susceptible individuals when they are exposed to sunlight that is more intense than usual, for example as in the first time you go out in the sun during the summer or when you expose a body part to sunlight that has no prior sunlight exposure. It may also occur if you travel to a higher latitude or lower latitude such as to a country closer to the equator where the sunlight has more strength.

Normally the resulting skin-rash reaction heals within 7-10 days with no treatment as long as additional sun exposure is avoided. Since you now know that you are sensitive, in the future you need to use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays when going out into the sun. (Sunlight is made up of UVA and UVB rays). Make sure the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA since these protective agents are more effective in preventing these breakouts. Mean time, don't irritate it by putting alcohol on it. Just stay out of the sun and let it heal on it's own. If it's not better after ten days you should see your doctor.

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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