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Sun Poisoning Prevention

Using sun poisoning prevention tips not only can help avoid a lot of pain, but might also save a life.

Wearing a hat is an excellent way to prevent sun poisoning. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Wearing a hat is an excellent way to prevent sun poisoning.

Sun Poisoning Prevention

Using sun poisoning prevention tips not only can help avoid a lot of pain, but might also save a life. Every severe sunburn doubles the sufferer's risk of developing cancer. Moreover, sun poisoning causes the skin to become red, irritated and swollen. People who sunburn badly may run a high fever and be nauseous.

The best way to prevent sunburn and sun poisoning is to limit the skin's exposure to the sun by avoiding it, covering the skin or using sunscreen to create a barrier between the sun's harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays and the skin .

Avoid Sun Exposure to Prevent Sun Poisoning

The easiest and safest way to prevent sun poisoning is to avoid exposing the skin to sunlight as much as possible. That does not mean avoiding the sun, but it does mean covering as much of the body as possible when outdoors. This is especially important in young children. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 80 percent of a person's total lifetime exposure to the sun takes place in the first 18 years.

Avoiding the sun is not always easy, but experts recommend staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when its rays are the strongest. The shadow rule is a good standard to follow: Avoid the sun if there is no shadow.

Another great way to keep track of the sun's radiation and chances of getting sunburned is to check the UV Index. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Weather Service have developed a UV Index, which predicts the amount of radiation that will get through to the earth each day. The ozone layer and weather variations protect the earth from the sun's damaging UV rays, but because of ozone depletion and weather changes, not all of the rays are stopped. The UV Index is broadcasted daily across the country.

Wear Proper Clothing to Prevent Sun Poisoning

If sun exposure cannot be avoided, the next best prevention is wearing protective clothing and sunglasses. Hats with wide brims, long sleeves and long pants are all good protectors. Tightly woven apparel blocks the sun well. There are also newer clothing items with Sun Protection Factor (SPF), like that used in sunscreens, woven right into the clothing. These items have special compounds and resins that absorb the UV rays .

Sunglasses with 99 to100 percent UV blocking abilities should be worn outdoors to prevent sunlight from burning the eyes. Sunburn and poisoning can occur within the eyes as well as the skin. Glasses that wrap around the sides of the face or fit tightly on the face block even more sun light.

Choose Proper Sunscreen to Prevent Sun Poisoning

Use of a sunscreen with 15 or greater SPF is the next best thing to covering the skin. Because some skin exposure cannot be prevented, it is a good idea to use sunscreen all the time. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays should be worn.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, people should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun. It should be reapplied every hour and a half to two hours for as long as the skin is exposed. Re-application after swimming and sweating is also important.

Avoid Medications That Affect Sun Poisoning

Being aware of any medications, cosmetics or lotions applied to the skin or ingested is also important. Some medications including antibiotics, birth control and others cause skin sensitivities to the sun. Some topical creams and cosmetics also cause sensitivities because they contain alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs).

Don't Rely on the Body to Feel Sun Poisoning

Signs of sunburn should not be used as ways to catch the burn and prevent sun poisoning. By the time the skin begins to turn red and feel irritated, it has already been severely burned. While some discomfort may occur, the true affects of the burn may not be felt for days. Sunburn pain is usually at its worst between six and 48 hours after the exposure occurs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Contrary to popular belief, a tan is not a shield that protects the skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. In fact, a tan is actually a sign that the skin is already damaged . Freckles are another sign of overexposure, and both should be seen as signs that more sunscreen is needed to prevent burning, possible sun poisoning or skin cancer.

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