Can Sun Poisoning Cause Diarrhea?  

Sun poisoning, also known as severe sunburn, is a condition characterized by the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Characterized by painful redness, blisters, and peeling, this condition is a common consequence of prolonged time in the sun. However, there is ongoing debate about whether sun poisoning can cause other systemic symptoms, including diarrhea. In this blog, we will explore the relationship between sun exposure and the digestive system to determine whether or not can sun poisoning cause diarrhea.

Understanding Sun Poisoning 

Before diving into sun poisoning’s potential connection with diarrhea, let’s briefly examine what sun poisoning is and how it affects the body. Sun poisoning is an extreme form of sunburn that results from excessive UV radiation exposure. This can often be confused with polymorphous light eruption, which is an allergic reaction to sun exposure that causes a rash, while sun poisoning is from prolonged sun exposure and has a broad spectrum of symptoms. 

The UV rays damage the skin’s cells, triggering an inflammatory response that leads to the characteristic symptoms associated with sun poisoning. Prolonged exposure to these UV rays can damage your skin to the point of potentially developing skin cancer. So, preventing sun poisoning is important in maintaining the health of your skin and preventing unpleasant symptoms. Common symptoms of sun poisoning include skin redness, pain, blisters or small bumps, peeling, swelling, fever and chills, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. 

The Connection Between Sun Exposure and the Digestive System

While sun poisoning primarily affects the skin, sunlight plays a crucial role in various bodily processes, one of which is the synthesis of vitamin D. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, it produces vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption, bone health, and overall immune function.

Beyond vitamin D production, excessive sun exposure can indirectly affect the body, through dehydration and heat-related illnesses. However, whether diarrhea can be a sign of sun poisoning remains a question.

Investigating Diarrhea as a Symptom of Sun Poisoning

Diarrhea is not commonly listed as one of the symptoms of sun poisoning in any studies or medical literature. The typical symptoms are confined to the skin, like redness, swelling, and pain. Nevertheless, some individuals have reported experiencing diarrhea in association with sunburn, leading to speculation about a possible connection.

man speaking with a doctor

One possible explanation for diarrhea occurring alongside sun poisoning is the effect of heat on the body’s internal processes. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can cause a range of symptoms, including gastrointestinal distress.

During heat exhaustion, the body struggles to cool itself effectively, leading to increased sweating and dehydration. Dehydration, in turn, can result in digestive issues, such as diarrhea. Additionally, heat-related illnesses can cause nausea and vomiting, further contributing to potential digestive upsets.

It is essential to note that these symptoms are typically associated with heat-related illnesses rather than sun poisoning itself. Therefore, it is crucial to differentiate between sunburn and heat-related illnesses when considering digestive issues.

Preventative Measures for Sun Poisoning

To reduce the risk of developing a case of sun poisoning and potential digestive distress, it is crucial to take preventive measures during sun exposure:

Sunscreen and Protective Clothing

Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before going outside. Wear protective clothing like hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.

Limit Sun Exposure

Avoid spending extended periods in direct sunlight, especially during peak UV hours (10 AM to 4 PM). Or, take frequent 15-minute breaks from the sun by seeking shade. 

woman drinking water outside

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in hot weather, to prevent dehydration. Using a cool compress or aloe vera can also help hydrate your skin and ease inflammation. 

Be Aware of Complications From Medications

Acne medications like Accutane can increase sun sensitivity, so preventing sun poisoning in these cases requires more precautions to be taken. 

When to Seek Emergency Care From Neighbors ER

So, can sun poisoning cause diarrhea? While sun poisoning can indirectly contribute to digestive distress, it does not directly cause diarrhea. Prolonged sun exposure in hot climates can lead to dehydration, a well-known cause of diarrhea. Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can also lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, due to the body’s struggle to regulate its internal temperature.

While sun poisoning itself does not cause diarrhea, maintaining proper hydration and protecting yourself from excessive sun exposure is essential for your well-being on sunny days. If you experience severe sunburn or gastrointestinal symptoms after sun exposure, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly for appropriate evaluation and care. At Neighbors ER, we’re available 24/7 to provide expert medical care, rehydration therapies, and more treatments to ease sun poisoning, diarrhea, and other ailments.

Visit our website for more information about how we can help you in your time of need!