Posted on Jun 21, 2019 10:15am PDT

While both sunburn and sun poisoning are detrimental to the well-being of your skin (the two look very similar in appearance), it is very simple to mistake which one will take a bigger toll on your health.

Sunburn vs. Sun Poisoning

Both sunburn and sun poisoning are caused by too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays, no matter how strong (or weak) they may be. Sunburn usually causes a redness of the skin, which can be warm to the touch. After some time, your skin may start to feel itchy and begin to peel.

Sun poisoning, on the other hand, is more severe and lasts for a longer period. Symptoms of sun poisoning include:

- Itchiness, bumps, or blisters

- Pain and swelling, which have a similar appearance to eczema lesions

- Swollen or red skin

- Darkening of the skin, which is also known as hyperpigmentation

While a sunburn is typical in cases of sun poisoning, the main difference between the two is that sun poisoning can be a hereditary type of allergy in some people. In some cases, a pre-existing condition, such as eczema and lupus, could cause your skin to be more sensitive to UV rays, heightening the risk of sun poisoning.

Treatment for Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning can be treated, but as long as the treatments focus on specific symptoms. For example, dressing the erupted blisters will help them heal and decrease the risk of open wounds getting infected. Another common way to treat sun poisoning is through light therapy, which is also known as phototherapy. This specific treatment involves exposing the affected skin to certain wavelengths of light. As this exposure to light slows the growth of damaged skin cells, it will also help relieve pain. In the instance that light therapy is not an option, sun poisoning can be nursed with specific medications.

Preventing Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is very hazardous to your skin, no matter what age you may be. Therefore, it’s essential to protect yourself from those UV rays. The first preventative step you can take is to avoid extensive exposure to the sun. It’s always smart to stay in the shade whenever possible, otherwise, be sure to cover your exposed skin by wearing additional layers of clothing, such as a hat, a UV protective long-sleeve shirt, and long pants. If you plan to be in the sun, apply sunscreen to your exposed skin. Using a higher SPF sunscreen will provide greater protection, which will also reduce the risk of getting sunburn or sun poisoning.

In the event that you do get sun poisoning, whether it is mild or severe, we highly recommend that you see an allergist, immediately, to treat the affected area. At Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we are here to provide you relief from the symptoms of sun poisoning and other skin conditions. Contact one of our many offices to schedule a same-day appointment.