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Home :: Sun Poisoning

Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning" is really an allergic reaction to the sun that occurs when skin is exposed to sunlight for the first time in the early spring, or during a winter vacation. While people with light skin are most susceptible to sunburn, sun allergy affects people of all skin colors.

If people with sun allergy venture to the beach at all, you can probably find them in a floppy hat, under an umbrella. Or, at least, that's where they should be.

In simple language the reaction to overexposure to the sun is called sun poisoning. This is likely to be a problem in any hot -season sport such as swimming, surfing, sailing, tennis or water skiing.


Exposure to sun during hot seasons when ultraviolet light is strongest. It is triggered by exposure to the sun, usually in conjunction with sunburn. Risks increase with any of the following:

  • Use of medications that cause photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light). The most common drugs include tetracycline antibiotics, thiazide diuretics, sulfa drugs and oral contraceptives. Some cosmetics, including lipstick, perfume and soaps, can also cause a photosensitive reaction.
  • Previous episodes of sun poisoning.
  • Use of immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus or thyroid disease.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms that occur with sun poisoning include the development of a red skin rash and sometimes small blisters, in areas which were exposed to sunlight. Fever, fatigue and dizziness may occur.


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.


Medical Treatment- None usually needed after diagnosis and prescription of medications.


You may take aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve mild pain or itching. Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Beta-carotene to reduce discomfort.
  • Chloroquine prior to sun exposure to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
  • Corticosteroids for severe cases.

Home Treatment

  • Stay out of the sun during the hours of strongest ultraviolet light (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
  • If you must go out in the sun for your athletic workouts, wear protective clothing and the most protective sunscreen preparation available. Beware of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Stay out of the sun when possible if you have a history of sun poisoning. Change vigorous workouts to a cooler part of the day.

We ask people to look for sunscreen that has SPF 15 or above because the probability of having UVB and fairly good UVA protection is quite good. People should specifically look for the word "broad-spectrum" on the label.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.