- Mild and uncomplicated cases of sunburn usually result in minor skin redness,
- Initially, the skin turns red about 2 to 6 hours after
exposure and feels irritated. The peak effects are noted at 12 to 24 hours.
- More severe cases (sun poisoning) are complicated by severe skin burning and blistering, massive fluid loss (dehydration),
electrolyte imbalance, and
- With too much exposure, severe untreated sunburn can cause shock (poor
circulation to vital organs) and even death.
Other common symptoms include:
- 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) about 4 to 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
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
- 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
Picture of peeling skin from sunburn
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/14/2015
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Patient Comments & Reviews
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