Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is this sun poisoning?"
I was out in the sun for way too long recently and now I have like an itchy, scaly, rash that is peeling and scabbing over on my chest and shoulders. Is this sun poisoning? If so, how should I treat it?
What you are experiencing is a sunburn. Sunburn is an inflammatory reaction in the skin caused by damaged from sunlight, and it can range from a simple reddened, flushed feeling to severe pain, blistering, scaling, and scabbing. Sun poisoning is a common term to describe essentially a severe sunburn.
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With severe sunburn, often there is headache, nausea, and dehydration. When these things occur, this is called sun poisoning , but the cause and damage to the skin is the same as with simple sunburn. If you do not have these other symptoms, then it is likely that you just have a sunburn. However, sun poisoning can be quite serious, and if you have any significant headache, vomiting, or signs of dehydration (dry mouth, unable to urinate) you should see your primary care doctor or go to the emergency room right away. In terms of treating the sunburn, you can take cool showers to relief the discomfort and gently apply a moisturizing lotion to relief the itch. You should drink plenty of liquids and you may wish to take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, for a few days to help with the pain. If there is significant swelling or blistering, you should be seen by your primary care doctor or dermatologist.
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