Sunburn Signs and Symptoms
According to a recent study, sunburn is caused by inflammation, which causes erythema (a rash) and edema (swelling) causing fluid buildup. It also causes alterations in skin cells. The growth of these sunburn cells, can turn malignant, as well as a decrease in mast cells, which help the immune system. (Health, 2023)
Sunburn symptoms differ from person to person. Anybody can get sunburned, but those with lighter skin are more vulnerable. After being exposed, the skin may become:
- Sensitive to the touch
Light skin may get crimson. Darker skin may darken with time.
Severe sunburn symptoms can impact the entire body. They are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting
- A general feeling of being unwell
A person suffering from severe sunburn may require medical assistance. Heat exhaustion or, more seriously, heatstroke can develop in extreme cases. If a person has any of the following symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention:
- Low blood pressure
- Fainting and dizziness
- Rapid pulse
- General pain throughout the body
- Extreme weakness
- Shallow breathing
- Changes in behavior, such as irritability, confusion, difficulty thinking, or hallucinations
Heat exhaustion is diagnosed by a doctor when the core body temperature rises over normal after sun exposure but does not exceed 104°F (40°C). The core body temperature of a person suffering from heatstroke will be higher than 104°F (40°C). Heatstroke is a potentially fatal illness that requires immediate medical intervention. (WebMD, 2022)
Timeline – Sunburn can cause the following symptoms:
- A rash typically develops 2-6 hours after exposure.
- Skin symptoms peak between 12 and 24 hours following exposure.
- After 4-7 days, the skin peels and flakes off.