When the Body Tells You to Head for the Shade

Skin is a great first line of defense against too much sun. When you’ve been out in the warming rays for too long, your skin will react with red and swollen bumps and blisters that turn into weird dark geometric patches. The body also will try too hard to cool you off and you’ll feel the chill blast of a cranked-up AC when there’s no air conditioner in sight. That’s when you know it’s time to head indoors. These are the body’s signals to get out of the sun. And if you’ve stayed too long, here are some remedies to ease the itchy, burning reactions.

Red and pink, itchy and burning bumps

Red or pink bumps on your arms, chest, and legs may burn as well as itch. You’ve got one of the most common skin diseases caused by exposure to sunlight. It usually afflicts women ages 20 to 40 who’ve treated themselves to a big dose of sunlight after staying out of the sun all winter. Like, say, the first time you go to the beach on vacation and lie out for hours. The rash will go away on its own, but if you’re uncomfortable, ask your dermatologist to make it go away by prescribing an anti-inflammatory cream such as a topical steroid.

Breaking Out in Hives​

A sun-induced allergic response to medications such as tetracycline or birth control pills or to medical conditions such as lupus may cause you to break out in hives. The red and swollen hives will appear on skin exposed to the sun. Usually the sites are the arms, legs and chest. The hives won’t last longer than 24 hours, and medications such as Zrytec, Allegra, or Claritin can speed you toward a faster recovery. More severe cases may need other oral medications or phototherapy to help regulate your immune system.

Headache, heavy sweating and achy muscles

Heat exhaustion can hit you with some strange symptoms because your body is dehydrated, and your muscles feel weak. Muscle cramping, lightheadedness, headache and heavy sweating are the result. You may also feel nauseated. It’s the aftermath of staying out too long in super-hot temperatures. Stop heat exhaustion before it starts by staying cool and drinking eight ounces of water every 20 minutes while you’re in the sun. If heat exhaustion symptoms strike when you get home, cool down your body by drinking water and staying in a cool place. Or jump in a cold bath or shower.

Feeling the chill blast

Your overheated body may struggle to return to its normal core temperature by drenching you in sweat that will dissipate and cool your skin. You then feel as though you’re standing in the cold blast from an air conditioner. Sunburn on the skin magnifies the effect. Help your body cool down by using aloe rubs or cold compresses on your skin and lowering your body temperature with a quick, cool shower.

Bumps turning into weird dark patches

Mix chemicals found in certain plants with ultraviolet A light and 24 hours later you could wind up with oddly shaped, red and swollen bumps or blisters that turn into weird geometric shapes. These dark patches can last for weeks to months. It’s not rare plants that can trigger a phototoxic reaction, either. Citrus fruits such as limes, celery, figs, wild parsnips and certain weeds can be the culprits. The weird dark patch will go away on its own. However, if the bumps are causing discomfort, a dermatologist can prescribe antihistamines and a topical steroid.

 

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