More than a sunburn: understanding sun poisoning

A little fun in the sun can be great. Too much can make you sick. You may have memories of a painful sunburn, but how much do you know about sun poisoning?


Recognize the symptoms of sun poisoning

An intense sunburn can lead to sun poisoning, which can leave you feeling like you have the flu or food poisoning. Symptoms of sun poisoning can vary, depending on how badly you’re burned. They include:

  • Skin redness and blistering
  • Pain and tingling
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fever and chills

You may be at greater risk for sun poisoning if you have certain pre-existing conditions, take certain medicines, or are exposed to certain chemicals. Talk to your doctor about your medical history and environment to see if you need to take extra precautions in the sun.

Treating sun poisoning

If you think you have sun poisoning, treat it with a few tips from WebMD:

  • Get out of the sun.
  • Take a cool (not cold) shower or bath or apply cool compresses.
  • Drink extra fluids for a few days.
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain.
  • Use aloe gel or a moisturizer.
  • Completely cover sunburned areas when going outside.

If you have any of these signs, you may be having a more severe reaction:

  • Blistering or very painful sunburn
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever and chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Confusion or faintness
  • Signs of dehydration

Do not ignore symptoms of sun poisoning – contact your doctor.

ConnectiCare members can also visit urgent care centers or use telemedicine services.  Use “Find a Doctor” on to find options if your doctor’s office isn’t open.

Sun safety is key

Sometimes you can’t avoid being out in the sun, especially during the summer. Things like sporting events, family parties, vacations, and even lawn care mean extended time outdoors. Sun exposure has its benefits and its risks. Follow the American Cancer Society’s tips to stay safe in the sun.