Your Virtual Pharmacist! Sun Poisoning and Sunscreen!

by Kathy Sykes on June 21, 2011 · 1 comment

My family enjoyed a wonderful vacation in San Diego, California this past week. The weather was perfect (mid 70’s) and sunny. Since we were coming from the South where the temperture was in the mid 90’s, some of us took the California sunshine for granted.

4 out of 6 family members came away with a crispy tan (even with African American skin) and one person got sun poisoning. I have posted in the past about the need to protect your skin and yes, we did use sunscreen but sometimes direct sunlight from laying out by the pool or on the beach can be very harsh on any type of skin.

So, what is sun poisoning? I found a great explanation from my trusted source Webmd.com.

Sun poisoning may also refer to two types of reactions to sunlight. The cause is unclear, although the immune system is believed to play a role. This may occur after exposure to certain drugs or chemicals or as part of a systemic disease. But sometimes the cause is unknown.

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). At least one in 10 Americans is affected by PMLE, a reaction that does not appear to be linked to drugs or diseases. More common in women than in men and beginning at any age, PMLE occurs in people who are susceptible and are exposed to intense sunlight that they are not used to. For example, people living in northern climates could experience this if taking a winter vacation in a tropical climate.

In some cases, this reaction gets better each year, but some people have reactions that become more extensive without treatment. And, how much sunlight individuals can tolerate varies from person to person.

Symptoms are a severe skin rash, usually appearing within 30 minutes to several hours of going out in the sun. The rash may be itchy and have these characteristics:

  • Small bumps all over the body
  • Dense clumps of bumps
  • Hives, usually on the arms, lower legs, and chest

 

How do you choose the proper sunscreen? The most important thing is to apply sunscreen whenever you go out in extreme (and sometimes not-so-extreme) sunlight. SPF 15 is usually appropriate for most people. You must apply a generous amount all over exposed skin areas and put on under makeup also. Another key point is to cover your body with light weight clothing to prevent sun burns. It may sound weird to cover up in extreme heat, but it can save you a lot of misery.

****Disclaimer****The information given here is not to replace the medical advice of your personal physician or other healthcare professionals. Our advice is to be used as supplemental  information to be reviewed and discussed with your physician or other appropriate medical professional.

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Linda Kirk June 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

Would add that SPF level may need to be much higher. Now using 110.

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