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Sunburn (cont.)

Sunburn Causes

  • Mild and uncomplicated cases of sunburn usually result in minor skin redness, and pain.
  • Initially, the skin turns red about 2-6 hours after exposure and feels irritated. The peak effects are noted at 12-24 hours.
  • More severe cases (sun poisoning) are complicated by severe skin burning and blistering, massive fluid loss (dehydration), electrolyte imbalance, and possibly infection.
  • With too much exposure, severe untreated sunburn can cause shock (poor circulation to vital organs) and even death.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Flulike symptoms
  • Blistering that may range from a very fine blister that is only found when you begin to "peel" to very large water-filled blisters with red, tender, raw skin underneath. When blisters pop, the skin that covered the blisters will slough off.
  • Skin loss (peeling) at about 4-7 days after exposure

Some individuals experience a sun rash (sometimes called sun poisoning) due to a condition called polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). About 10% of Americans are affected by PMLE, a reaction that does not appear to be linked to drugs or diseases.

Symptoms of PMLE are a mild to severe skin rash, usually appearing within 30 minutes to several hours of sun exposure. The rash may be itchy and have these characteristics:

  • Small bumps all over the body, predominantly in sun-exposed areas
  • Sun rash progresses to dense clumps of bumps
  • Hives, usually on the arms, lower legs, and chest

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Sunburn (Sun Poisoning):

Sunburn - Treatment

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Bad Sunburn - Experience

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Sunburn »

Sunburn is an acute cutaneous inflammatory reaction that follows excessive exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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