Sun poisoning: When tanning goes wrong

In addition to painful burn, sun poisoning can produce fever, chills, nausea, exhaustion and fainting spells in some cases.

Sun poisoning: When tanning goes wrong
© Getty/ Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy
Sun poisoning: When tanning goes wrong

Over the years, you may have become more aware of the need to use sunscreen to avoid sunburn, reduce risks of skin cancer and for its anti-ageing benefits. But as summer is almost upon us, you might want to know about another even more severe effect of sun exposure on not just the skin, but your overall health.

Discover our latest podcast

Sun poisoning

Sun poisoning is a case of severe sunburn after long periods of sun exposure. It presents in various forms depending on one’s level of sensitivity to the sun. This condition is more severe than sunburn in that it typically requires medical treatment to limit complications.

Also, apart from having severe burns in the form of rashes, a person who has sun poisoning may experience vomiting, exhaustion, fever, chills, nausea and even fainting spells. Dermatologist, Deanne Mraz Robinson explains to Allure:

The sun rash can be wide-spread or may appear only on areas of the body that were most severely burned…the rash is typically itchy and can develop small bumps that look like hives

According to, people with fair skin and or have relatives who’ve had skin cancer are at higher risk of getting sun poisoning. As melanin is responsible for eye colour, those with green or blue eyes may be more sensitive to light than people with darker eyes.

Getty/ Sally Anscombe

Managing sun poisoning

If you happen to fall into any of the above categories or are generally prone to sunburns, you should limit the time you spend in the sun. If you can, avoid the sun for several days can help limit its impact on your skin and health. Even if you don’t get sun poisoning, experts say any all sun damage could have long term effects on health. Dr Sarah Carlick said:

If someone gets really red or pink, and they do that maybe once or twice a year, then they are constantly increasing their risk of that skin cancer growing. You might think, 'Oh, they are just a little bit pink, it doesn't matter', but it really does. It compounds year-on-year

Read more:

Sunburn: Here's what you should never do after getting sunburnt

Sunglasses: Wearing cheap glasses can be harmful for your eyes, doctors warn

British mum hospitalised after severe sunburns leave her in excruciating pain

Who is responsible if a vaccine goes wrong? Who is responsible if a vaccine goes wrong?