Can too much sun make you sick?

The sun may make human life possible, but it can also be incredibly damaging to human health. Unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of photodermatitis, sun poisoning and skin cancer. Additionally, the soaring summer temperatures place Californians at an increased risk of heat-related illnesses. At Riverside Community Hospital, you’ll find the expert medical guidance you need to protect your family.


Photodermatitis is a condition in which the skin reacts abnormally to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Certain people may be at a higher risk of being particularly sensitive to sun exposure, including the following:

  • People who are taking certain medications
  • Patients with lupus or eczema
  • People with certain genetic factors

Photodermatitis can be acute, which means it develops suddenly and doesn’t last for a long time. Or, it can be chronic. The possible signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Itchy blisters and bumps
  • Raised areas of the skin
  • Swelling, redness and pain
  • Fever with chills
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Skin lesions
  • Areas of darkened skin

Sun poisoning

Sun poisoning refers to extreme sunburn that causes skin inflammation. Prevention is always best, but if sun poisoning does occur, it’s recommended that patients seek emergency care. The following signs and symptoms can be indicative of sun poisoning:

  • Large blisters
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache
  • Skin swelling

Additionally, sun poisoning is characterized by a rash-like skin reaction. The skin becomes quite red and dry before it peels. The effects of sun poisoning can last longer than a week.

Skin cancer

Photodermatitis and sun poisoning, along with any other sort of unprotected sun exposure, can increase the risk of skin cancer. Although skin cancer may take longer to develop than sun poisoning, the result can be life-threatening.

Early detection of skin cancer is crucial, so consider scheduling a skin cancer screening annually. Your doctor may also recommend doing a self-check of your skin every month.

Heat-related illnesses

The hot summer sun can make you more susceptible to developing heat-related illnesses, which have immediate and potentially serious effects on health. Heat cramps are the mildest form of these progressive illnesses, followed by heat exhaustion and, lastly, heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke both require immediate medical attention. They can cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Little to no sweating and urine output
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

For all of life’s medical emergencies, your family can count on Riverside Community Hospital to provide the superior care you deserve. Along with our patient-focused emergency care, we specialize in bariatric weight loss, robotic surgery and organ transplants. To request a physician referral, call a registered nurse in Riverside at (951) 788-3463.

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