sun burn

Can Sun Poisoning Kill You?

You’ve been to the beach, spent too much time in the sun, and now you’re wondering if sun poisoning can kill you. Well, you are not alone. After a peak winter season, so many of us like to soak in the sun at the beach. And who doesn’t like a bronzed tan? But, without proper precautions, you might face the repercussions of the sun, causing sun poisoning.

Sun poisoning is an allergic reaction that occurs after you’ve spent excess time in direct sunlight. The response to these harmful UV rays can damage your DNA and even kill skin cells. Severe cases of sun poisoning cause blistering, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and infection. Too much exposure and leaving your sunburns untreated can cause shock, and sun poisoning can kill you.

Some people might get sunburned for as only 15 minutes spent in the sun. This usually depends upon the color of your skin and other DNA factors. In our article can sun poisoning kill you, we’ll discuss the possible symptoms and treatments of this allergic reaction. 

What is Sun Poisoning?

The scientific name of sun poisoning is a polymorphic light reaction, and it refers to a case of extreme sunburn. The term can sometimes be misleading, as it is not a type of poisoning but an allergic reaction. 

It usually occurs when you’ve experienced excess exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Based on your skin’s sensitivity, it can present itself in varying forms and stages of severity. 

How to Recognize Sun Poisoning?

The sun’s harmful UV rays can damage your DNA and kill your skin cells. All of this leads to an allergic reaction in your body coupled with a burn on your skin. Most people get confused between the term sun poisoning and the more common sunburn.

Sunburn and sun poisoning have similar symptoms. And it could take several hours before your body shows any signs of reaction. The following symptoms can help you identify whether you have been affected by sun poisoning: 

  • Presence of a sunburn
  • Severe redness and pain
  • Peeling skin or blistering
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration or Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Fever with chills
  • Swelling

If you have a sunburn and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should immediately talk to your doctor.


What Causes Sun Poisoning?

The typical reasons that cause sun poisoning include being out in the sun without wearing sunscreen. It can also be caused by simply spending an unhealth amount of time the sun. 

Some people might be at an increased risk of sunburn or sun poisoning. You may be one of them if you fall under the following categories:

  • Have fair skin
  • Take oral contraceptives
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Have relatives who suffered skin cancer
  • Resides in high altitudes like mountainous regions
  • Reside in regions near the equator
  • A frequent visitor at the beach
  • Using AHAs like chemical peels
  • Apply citrus oil to the skin before going out
  • Engage in regular snow activities.

If you fall into one of the above categories, it’s best to take a few precautions before going outdoors. 

Treatments of Sun Poisoning

Since sun poisoning is a more extreme version of a sunburn, the treatments will differ. You also need to take this a little more seriously than your average sunburn. Here are a few simple ways to treat sun poisoning:

  • Treat your burn with cool water or compress.
  • Apply hydrating lotion to the affected skin while it’s moist. This will help your peeling or blistering skin to retain more moisture.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids helps replenish moisture and hydrates your dry skin.
  • Apply fresh aloe to the burnt areas of your skin.
  • Cover your burnt areas when going out.
  • For severe burning, you can take intravenous fluids for dehydration.
  • Steroid creams for painful blistering.
  • Oral steroids for pain or swelling
  • Prescription pain medications if aspirin isn’t enough to relieve your pain.
  • Topical antibiotics to prevent any infection.

If these tips do not help you, you should rush to the emergency room. They will help you treat your burn and provide relief. Do not treat sun poisoning with prescription medicines, antibiotics, or steroid creams before consulting your doctor.


Can Sun Poisoning Kill You?

The term “sun poisoning” is a little misleading. It’s an allergic reaction to the sun’s harmful UV rays instead of an actual poisoning. While it does damage your DNA and skill cells, it is very unlikely that you’ll die of sun poisoning. 

Severe cases of sunburn should be treated with immediate effect before they cause any complications. If you feel extremely dehydrated and have a severe burn and blistering, you should consult your doctor immediately.

Extremely severe cases can cause massive fluid loss, electrolyte imbalance, infection, causing shock. This causes poor blood circulation to vital organs and can kill you. At the same time, there are very few people who directly die from sun poisoning. But, its side effects include skin cancer, which kills over 60,000 people every year worldwide.

Tips to Prevent Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is a pretty painful experience, and you should try to avoid it as much as possible. By taking the proper precautions, you’ll easily prevent sunburns while at the beach or a swimming pool.

The following are a few helpful tips to avoid sun poisoning:

  1. Apply Sunblock

Sunblock or sunscreen lotions create a barrier between your skin and the harmful UV rays. It significantly reduces the chances of your skin absorbing these radiations. Ensure that you smear a sunblock liberally onto your skin. 

It’s best to opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. And when outdoors, remember to reapply sunscreen after every two hours. 

  1. Avoid Midday Sun

The sun is the most powerful during midday. These rays are strongest between 11 am and 2 pm. Try to plan out your daily activities so they take place earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

  1. Limit Your Exposure to The Sun

Summers can entice you to go outside and enjoy the sun. Going to the beach and getting a beautiful tan on the skin is quite irresistible. However, excessive exposure to the sun, particularly if you have fair skin, can cause sun burning. You should limit your activities and spend some time indoors as well. 


Sun poisoning is an allergic reaction caused due to overexposure to the sun. While it is not an actual poisoning, it can damage your DNA and kill skin cells. It can be a primary reason leading to skin cancer. 

While it is highly unlikely that you will die from sun poisoning, its side effects might harm you in the long run. Additionally, sunburns can be quite painful and itchy. 

You can easily prevent sun poisoning by applying sunblock and limiting your time in the sun. Make sure that you are enjoying the weather without harming your body. 

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