How you should go about the treatment really depends on the type of sun poisoning which you have. There are three basic types, and all of them call for similar treatment when you are experiencing symptoms, but some may call for more specialized long-term treatment in order to reduce or eliminate future occurrences. The three main types of sun poisoning include severe sunburn (anyone can get this), polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), and solar urticaria (sun allergy). Most people who experience this condition simply have severe sunburns. About 1 in 10 Americans has PMLE, but sun allergy is quite rare.
If you begin experiencing symptoms of sun allergy which point toward a severe sunburn, you should start out by getting out of the sun immediately. Next you should hydrate yourself by drinking some water. You’ll need to drink extra fluids over the next few days to stabilize your body. After you drink some water, use cool (not cold) compresses, or take a cool (not cold) shower or bath in order to soothe the symptoms and get your skin hydrated and your body cooled off.
After you take your bath, you will want to apply a moisturizer to your skin. Aloe Vera is a good option since it is a natural, healthy gel which is capable of repairing damaged skin tissue and speeding up the healing of rashes and other skin problems. Many different soaps and lotions contain Aloe Vera. You can also apply it directly if you have access to an aloe plant. Another moisturizer will work fine if you cannot find one which contains aloe. When you go back outside, try and avoid direct sunlight as much as you can, and cover up any sunburned areas of your skin with clothing. If it’s your face that is burned, you should wear a hat or carry an umbrella for additional protection.
If you are experiencing signs of severe dehydration, headache, confusion or faintness, you should seek immediate medical attention. Other signs that you may need medical assistance include facial swelling, fever and chills, or an upset stomach. Hospitalization is rarely needed for sun poisoning, but it does sometimes become necessary.
If you have PMLE, you may be able to take care of all your sun poisoning symptoms on your own following the steps recommended above. Usually PMLE rashes clear up within ten days. You may also benefit from using low-dose antimalarials. If you have sun allergy, you may need to take antihistamines or pursue a course of desensitization or phototherapy. You can also use topical corticosteroids or sunscreen which contains UVB and UVA protection.
Some medications can cause sun sensitivity including antibiotics, acne medications, antidepressants, diuretics, heart drugs, birth control pills and antibacterials or antifungals. Some fragrances may also cause photosensitivity. See a doctor before discontinuing use of any necessary medications or you may cause more serious health problems. You may be able to switch to a new medication, but you can only do so under the guidance of a doctor.