Sunburn: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/25/2020

Sunburn is a form of damage to the skin caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Sunburn can affect anyone of any skin color, but people with certain pigment or skin disorders like albinism, lupus, porphyrias, vitiligo, and xeroderma pigmentosum, and those with fair skin are at most risk of sunburn.

Signs and symptoms of sunburn include

  • pinkness or redness of the skin,
  • skin that feels warm or hot to the touch,
  • pain,
  • tenderness,
  • itching,
  • swelling, and
  • the development of small fluid-filled blisters, which may break.

If the sunburn is severe, other symptoms like headache, fever, nausea, and fatigue may develop.

Cause of sunburn

UV radiation from the sun can damage the skin and eyes, leading to the inflammation known as sunburn.

Other sunburn symptoms and signs

  • Development of Small Fluid-Filled Blisters
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Pinkness or Redness of the Skin
  • Skin That Feels Warm or Hot to the Touch
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness


Eczema Browse our medical image collection of allergic skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis and more caused by allergies See Images

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.