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Skin Care and Diseases

Sunburn to Itchy Red Pimple Looking Bumps

06/22/2011

Question:

ive spent 8 yrs in florida when I was younger, never had much burning problems from the sun, however im a 38 yr old male who went to the community pool and someone told me to put coconut oil on as it is good for the skin,so I did and big mistake, 2 hours in the sun got me red and shirts hurt to wear,atleast I had long shorts on! This was last week and I started peeling 4 days ago, also where ever I peeled already I have pimple like itchy red bumps mostly without heads.on them and some are in bunches, they itch, and seems like they are appearing only after I peel the old skin,please help, im gona try lanocane spray but is this sun poisoning? Any feed back will help , thanks!!

Answer:

While it is unusual for there to be such a long delay in rash development in true sun poisoning, it is a possibility. It sounds like you may have developed Polymorphous Light Eruption, which looks like a skin rash. It occurs in susceptible individuals when they are exposed to sunlight that is more intense than usual, for example as in the first time you go out in the sun during the summer or when you expose a body part to sunlight that has no prior sunlight exposure.

Normally the resulting skin-rash reaction heals within 7-10 days with no treatment as long as additional sun exposure is avoided. However, if the bumps don't begin to disappear or start getting worse you should see your doctor.

In the future don't use coconut oil which has no sun protection in it. Using sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays is mandatory. (Sunlight is made up of UVA and UVB rays). Make sure the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA since these protective agents are more effective in preventing these breakouts and are an important component in the prevention of skin cancer.

Right now you need to read the labels carefully. By next year it will be easier to determine which suncreens have full protection. The key is using enough sunscreen. That means applying a shot glass full of sunscreen every time you apply it and reapplying it every couple of hours (even the kind that says waterproof and rub proof).

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Response by:

Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University