Why Is My Sunburn Blistering?

That excruciating, crimson sunburn you experienced seems to be getting worse. Instead of the light peeling and healing you normally expect, your skin has started to blister. What’s going on? If this is the case, you are most likely experiencing sun poisoning, which is an allergic reaction to being burned by the sun.

What is Sun Poisoning?

While it’s not an official medical term, sun poisoning is a real condition, typically referred to as a type of sun allergy. This allergy, in medical terms, is called Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE). It occurs when your immune system mistakenly sees sun-damaged skin cells as invaders and reacts to protect you.

Sun poisoning can cause a typical burn to turn into nasty blisters, rashes, and skin irritation – often sticking around for weeks. Unfortunately, it can keep coming back each time you’re in the sun.

Who’s at Risk?

Several factors can make you more likely to get sun poisoning, such as having fair skin or red hair, working outdoors, having a family history of skin cancer, drinking alcohol while spending time outside, living at high elevations, using baby oil to tan, or using tanning beds or lamps.

If you use any of those products or have those pre-existing factors, consider the risk you undertake when spending time outside. Take precautions to keep your skin, your largest organ, safe.

Prevention is Key

Preventing sun poisoning starts with smart sun protection habits. It’s crucial to limit sun exposure, especially during peak sunlight hours from 10 am to 4 pm, particularly for children. Kids need extra care in the sun. Keep them cool, hydrated, and away from direct sunlight, especially babies under six months old who should avoid it entirely. Using umbrellas, wide-brimmed hats, and lightweight, tightly woven clothing can shield their skin. For children six months and older, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin. Remember, a significant amount of sun damage leading to skin cancer occurs during childhood and adolescence.

Here are some tips to avoid sun poisoning and keep your skin safe:

⦁ Stay away from tanning beds or lamps; they don’t prevent sunburn.
⦁ Replace sunscreen that’s older than three years.
⦁ Use water-resistant, broad-spectrum lip balm and sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
⦁ Even on cloudy days, you can get sunburned, so use sunscreen.
⦁ Apply at least two tablespoons of sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside.
⦁ Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
⦁ Consider using titanium oxide and zinc oxide sunscreens, especially for sensitive skin.
⦁ Apply insect repellent after sunscreen.
⦁ Check if any medications you’re taking increase sun sensitivity.
⦁ Wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes
⦁ Be cautious with cosmetics containing alpha hydroxy acid, as they can increase sun sensitivity.
⦁ Consider wearing protective clothing with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) for added sun protection.

No matter your age, skin type, or family history, skin protection is important. Sun poisoning is no joke – it can be painful and long-lasting. You deserve to enjoy time outside with your family, without a troublesome rash or festering blisters holding you back. Stop by AFC for the care you need, so we can get you back on your feet and doing what matters to you.