Itchy Eyes? Experts Warn To Get Out Of The Sun Immediately

Here are 10 red flag signs you've spent way too much time in the sun.
Olga Rolenko via Getty Images

If you’ve been online in the last few years, chances are you will have seen at least one of the endless TikToks, tweets and articles about the importance of applying SPF.

And as the NHS says, the dangers of the sun can put more than just your skin’s appearance in danger.

Too much time spent soaking up the rays can cause heat exhaustion, sun stroke, and even cancer.

Of course, you ought to follow all the regular guidelines when it comes to protecting yourself from UV rays.

But with the UK set to enjoy both a mini heatwave and a bank holiday weekend this week, here’s a reminder of the signs that you need to get out of the sun ASAP.

1. You’re tired

It’s normal to feel sleepy when the sun comes out. But fatigue can also be a red flag sign of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

This happens because of water loss and something called vasodilation – your body trying to cool your skin using your blood.

So, keep an eye out for any truly fatiguing sunbathing sessions.

2. You’ve got cramps

Water and nutrient loss is to blame here. When you’re significantly overheated, your body loses vital electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

This can result in localised or body-wide aches, which can be a sign of heat stroke – so don’t ignore a midday foot freeze-up if you’re out in the sun.

3. Your eyes are itchy

Yes, it is hay fever season, but excess pollen might not be the only cause of itchy eyes – especially when it’s sunny out.

According to Specsavers, your eyes can become sunburned (yes, really). This is more likely if you’re surrounded by bright or white surfaces, like concrete or sand.

The condition, also known as photokeratitis, can result in red, itchy eyes. Other symptoms include blurred vision and a “gritty” feeling.

Experts advise against rubbing your eyes when you experience this, as it may worsen the condition. Instead, leave the sun ASAP.

4. You have a fast heartbeat or sped-up breathing

Everything from the sun’s radiation to your natural water loss can make the heat tough on your heart, Harvard says.

Sped-up breathing and an accelerated heartbeat can be sure-fire signs you need to get out of the sun ASAP, as they can signal severe heat illness.

The NHS advises calling 999 immediately if you’re experiencing this particular side effect.

5. You’ve got a headache

Some people with a condition called photophobia will find that almost any exposure to bright rays will cause a headache, and it can even be a trigger for migraine sufferers.

But even if your headache is mild, it could be a sign you’ve soaked up too many rays, Healthline says.

Pulsating temples can be a sign of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even dangerous heat stroke – so be careful not to immediately chalk your aching cranium down to those loud kids in the paddling pool.

6. You’re nauseous, or throwing up

It’s a very serious sign if the sun is making you feel nauseous or making you vomit, says The Mayo Clinic. The issue usually results from massive water and nutrient loss.

It can be a sign of dangerous sun stroke, so it’s no wonder the NHS recommends calling 999 if the sufferer is still feeling ill after 30 minutes.

7. You’re very thirsty

Yes, lots of us like to reach for a crisp, cool lager the second the weather gets above 20°C. But if you’re feeling incredibly, unquenchably thirsty, it could well be a sign of dehydration.

In this case, you’ll want to get some liquids down you and seek the shade as soon as possible, as dehydration can cause serious side effects.

8. You’re peeing less

Speaking of which, water loss can also affect your bathroom habits. If your urine is very dark or if you’re barely going at all, it could be yet another sign of dehydration.

9. Your lips are dry

Parched lips aren’t just annoying. They can also signal that you really need to drink some water, according to the NHS.

Your eyes, lips, and the inside of your mouth can also dry out in the heat, so make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day to prevent any excess dryness.

10. Your skin feels hot and looks inflamed

Some sun worshippers may get a heat rash (small, raised spots with a prickly feeling), which is uncomfortable but usually harmless.

But the NHS says if your skin feels hot to the touch and turns red without sweating, you need to call 999 at once, as these can be symptoms of heat stroke.

To prevent these issues, experts say you should wear a broad-rimmed hat in the sun, apply SPF every day, stay hydrated, wear light clothing, don’t skimp on your hydration, and try to stay indoors during the sunniest parts of the day (usually between 10am and 4pm).

But if they’ve already happened, consult your doctor if you’re struggling – and (it bears repeating), contact 999 immediately if you suspect heatstroke.