The Difference between a Sunburn and Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning and general sunburn differ in a few ways, although poisoning by the sun is usually an extreme form of sunburn. Still, you can tell if you've got a case of poisoning rather than burn with the presence of a few extra symptoms.

Symptoms of a Sunburn

A sunburn occurs when you've exposed your skin to UV rays for long periods without adequate protection (in the form of clothing and/or sunscreen). Your skin becomes damaged at a cellular level and must shed the damaged skin in order to grow new skin. Your skin will become red or darker in color, and about two days after sun exposure, it may become hot to the touch, painful, sensitive to the touch or weight of clothing and itchy. Blisters may begin to form. As the burn heals, dead skin will begin to peel away.

Sunburns increase your risk of skin cancer, premature wrinkles and sunspots. Always protect your skin, especially when headed outdoors for long periods.

When a Burn Becomes Poisoning

Sun poisoning is usually the most extreme case of sunburn. You will likely exhibit all or most of the symptoms of a sunburn in addition to fever, dizziness, stomachache, difficulty breathing and fatigue. You may get the symptoms of sun poisoning even without a sunburn (usually it's then known as heat exhaustion). Overexposure to UV rays and heat is responsible for these symptoms.

Sunburn does not necessarily require medical attention, but sun poisoning may. If you suspect poisoning from your burn and/or your sunburn is extremely uncomfortable, see a physician or dermatologist as soon as possible.

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