Sunburn (Sun Poisoning)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Sunburn and sun poisoning facts

  • Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.
  • UV radiation damages the skin and also can damage the eyes.
  • UV rays are most intense at noon and the hours immediately before and after (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
  • Immediate symptoms of sunburn are
    • hot, red, tender skin;
    • pain when the skin is touched or rubbed; and
    • dehydration;
    • several days after exposure the skin may, swell, blister, peel, and itch.
  • Most sunburns are mild and can provide relief and be treated home remedies such as
    • applying damp cloths or compresses to reduce the pain,
    • soaking in a tepid bath (with no soap),
    • gently patting the skin dry,
    • applying soothing creams or lotions,
    • using OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol or others, and
    • moisturizing the skin.
  • Sunburn may cause permanent skin damage and skin cancer (malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
  • UVB as well as UVA rays may cause damage to skin. UV rays may bounce off water, sand, snow, and other surfaces causing sunburn.
  • Persons with certain pigment disorders (albinism, lupus, porphyrias, vitiligo, and xeroderma pigmentosum) and individuals with fair skin are at most risk of sunburn.
  • Some medications may increase sensitivity to sunburn (photosensitivity).
  • The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid long exposure to sunlight.
  • Sunscreen and sun-protective clothing are important measures to limit sun damage. Apply sunscreen before going outdoors, apply it liberally, and re-apply frequently.
  • Sun poisoning is caused by severe sunburn; its symptoms include
  • Heat stroke is a severe form of high body temperature (hyperthermia) that is life-threatening.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/17/2015

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Sunburn - Experience Question: Have you ever experienced a really bad sunburn? What was it like?
Sunburn - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you have with a sunburn?
Sunburn - Treatment Question: What treatments helped relieve the pain, itching, peeling, etc. for sunburn?
Sunburn - Home Remedies Question: What home remedies have you found helpful in treating the symptoms of a sunburn?
Sunburn (Sun Poisoning) - Applying Sunscreen Question: What tips do you use for applying sunscreen, for example, the time of day, how many applications, how to remind yourself to reapply sunscreen, etc.
Sunburn

10 Home Remedies for Sunburn Treatment

Check out our top 10 tips to cool that sunburn!

  1. Place a cool compress on sunburned skin.
  2. Take a cool shower or bath.
    • Add one cup of cider vinegar to a bath to help balance the pH (acid or alkalinity) of sunburned skin, and promote healing.
    • Soak in an oatmeal bath. This is especially helpful for itchy sunburned skin.
  3. Use lotions that contain aloe Vera to soothe and moisturize skin. Some aloe products contain lidocaine, an anesthetic that can help relieve sunburn pain....