woman with sunburn lines on shoulder

Sunburn vs. Sun Poisoning

What’s the Difference Between Sunburn and Sun Poisoning?

Having itchy, peeling skin that’s sensitive to touch is never fun during the summer months, but it can also be detrimental to your health, leading to skin cancer in many instances.

Learn when to seek treatment for your sunburn:


A sunburn is your body’s natural inflammatory response when the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays damage your skin’s outer layer. Sunburns typically consist of red, peeling, and swollen skin that feels hot to the touch.

When your skin is exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight, you’re more likely to sustain this type of damage. In minor cases, applying aloe vera can help eliminate your symptoms. A severe sunburn however can lead to flu-like symptoms and other symptoms, like sun poisoning.

Preventing Sunburns

According to recent studies, those who had at least five blistering sunburns when they were 15 to 20 years old had a 68% increased risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and an 80% increased risk for melanoma.

When spending time outdoors, remember to apply sunscreen and cover up with sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing to prevent damage to your skin.

Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is actually your skin’s allergic reaction to excessive amounts of UV rays — and it’s a severe case of sunburn. When you’ve been out in the sun for long periods of time without proper protection, your skin is at risk for more damage. Sun poisoning causes blisters or a sun rash, and severe cases can cause dehydration and other flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Fever and chills
  • Aching pain
  • Severe redness
  • Inflammation
  • Dizziness

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

California and Arizona Urgent Care for the Entire Family

If your symptoms persist or become more severe and you believe you should seek immediate medical attention. Convenient care, walk-in work injury care, and onsite services are available at all of our Pinnacle HealthCare locations. We are proud to be trusted leading providers in family practice and general primary care services, offering a wide range of testing and screenings, as well as managing your overall health and well-being to the best extent.

If you’re in need of medical care this summer, visit one of our convenient office locations today, or for more information, contact us at: (831) 387-7177