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Sunburn causing water retention, who knew?

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Old 06-14-2011, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default Sunburn causing water retention, who knew?

On Sunday, Hubby and I went to a friend's cookout and I was very careful with my food. One plate - low-carb, on plan, and food not crowding the plate. So I was very surprised to see a sudden 5 lb gain on the scale the next morning.

The meat marinade had been a little salty, but not enough to account for 5 lbs, especially as I had been drinking a lot of zero calorie fluids (water and flavored vitamin water which did contain stevia and xylitol) which usually flushes extra water out.

I also got a fairly severe sunburn, mostly to my face and arms. I would never have connected the sunburn to the water retention, except that my face (the worst burnt) was very obviously swollen - so puffy that the pores looked like deep craters and my nose and cheeks were really enlarged. My face looked like a bright red, lumpy orange. It was bad enough that I probably would have gone to prompt care clinic (for situations that are less-than-emergencies, but too urgent to wait for a doctor's appointment) had been open.


I noticed that my wrists and ankles were also puffy (even though I didn't get any sunburn to my legs).

Out of curiosity, I googled to see if sunburn could case water retention, and sure enough, it's actually fairly common.

Also the sun burn or the sweating clogged my pores, and caused half a dozen huge pimples.
Another good reason to be careful in the sun.

It ticks me off though, because not only do I look terrible, and my face and arms hurt, but the weight isn't going to come off before my TOPS weigh-in tonight, and I was really looking forward to a significant loss this week.
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:14 PM   #2
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This breaks my heart but eases my mind all at the same time!
I had a really severe sunburn this past weekend and on Monday I was excited about weigh in but was saddened to see that I hadn't lost any weight(I was expecting a few pounds)
So now I understand why!!!!
How long does it usually take to come off?
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Ack! So sorry you got sunburned and scaleburned at the same time. I never would've guessed!
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:17 PM   #4
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Ouch. Aloe vera?

I discovered the fun way this week that spending half of Sunday night in agonising stomach pain, with chills and generally feeling horrendously ill (had the doctor out at 3 am), causes a nice little rise in the scale on Tuesday morning.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mhill0823 View Post
This breaks my heart but eases my mind all at the same time!
I had a really severe sunburn this past weekend and on Monday I was excited about weigh in but was saddened to see that I hadn't lost any weight(I was expecting a few pounds)
So now I understand why!!!!
How long does it usually take to come off?

I couldn't find any specific information, but from what I've read, it depends on how bad the burn is and how slowly you tend to heal.

Any and all injuries cause swelling and water rentention, because they're both part of the healing process. I actually knew that already, I just (duh) didn't really think of sunburn as an injury, when it's actually a fairly significant one (I knew that too, but I didn't put the two and two together).

So whether you break your leg or get a sunburn, water retention can result.

I went to my weigh-in and I'm still up 4 lbs. So, I dropped a pound so far, and it's been 48 hours. I'm pushing the fluids and using Solarcaine Burn Relief Spray (with aloe and lidocaine).



My face is still swollen and broken out, but at least it's looking better, until it starts to peel. I'm not looking forward to that, especially since I'm not one of those people who tan after a burn. When I burn, first I burn, then I peel and the new skin under the peeling is even whiter and more sensitive to burning.

What's ironic, is that I realized I had forgotten my sunscreen, but I wasn't worried about my face, because the mineral makeup I was wearing had an spf rating of 15 (thank God for it, or I bet I would have blistered). I was wearing capris and a tunic with 3/4 length sleeves, so I thought I was fairly well protected.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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Sorry to hear about your sunburn. I'm very fair skinned and know all to well how painful it can be. I hope it heals quickly for you!
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:25 PM   #7
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Yeah I'm the same way... after a few burns every summer I do start to tan but it takes a lot.. surprisingly over the years I've learned how to not peel as bad... I buy Banana Boat after sun aloe vera lotion... and i literally put it on 3 times a day for 8 days after the burn... I burned on Saturday and so far my chin and nose have peeled, that is all!
I'm the sunburn queen, I know all the silly remedies!
and Solarcain for sunburn, i have about 3 cans on backup!
lol
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:38 PM   #8
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So sorry to hear about the burn, but thanks for sharing the information. Ibuprofen is my go-to for sunburns- reduces the inflammation and, of course, acts a painkiller. Good luck!
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:24 AM   #9
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So sorry to hear about the burn, but thanks for sharing the information. Ibuprofen is my go-to for sunburns- reduces the inflammation and, of course, acts a painkiller. Good luck!

LOL! That used to be mine too, but I'm allergic to NSAIDS, and it only took me and my doctors 20 years to figure that out. Turns out they were causing asthma symptoms. I went from three types of daily asthma meds, two types of prescription allergy meds and a rescue inhaler to just a rescue inhaler and as-needed otc allergy meds).

I am taking fish oil though for inflammation, and I have my pain meds for my fibro, so I'm fairly comfortable (and I'm down another half pound).
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:44 AM   #10
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Hi Kaplods, how's the sunburn today?

I can't tolerate NSAIDs either, although we figured this out fairly fast. Give me one ibuprofen, taken on a full stomach with ranitidine, and I promptly develop two weeks of stomach pain. Actually, I'm crap with painkillers in general, it's an absolute nuisance. I do take echium oil (best veggie alternative to fish oil), not that I can really afford it right now, and I've been on ginger since I started dieting as I was getting chilly. No idea how much either are helping with inflammation.

Could you tell me more about how any injury will cause water retention? I am currently feeling rather miffed about what's just happened with me. The story goes as follows:

8/6/11 - 132.2
9/6/11 - 131.8
10/6/11 - 131.8
11/6/11 - 130.8
12/6/11 - 131.2
13/6/11 - no weigh in due to being up most of the night before with horrendous abdominal pain, nausea and chills (doctor was called in, said vaguely that it might be a virus)
14/6/11 - 132.4
15/6/11 - 132.0
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:11 PM   #11
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I learned this the hard way, too. I burnt my thighs pretty bad once, and noticed the next day that they were FIRM! Not quite the way I wanted it to happen.

Hope your burn feels better soon!
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:25 PM   #12
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Hi Kaplods, how's the sunburn today?

I can't tolerate NSAIDs either, although we figured this out fairly fast. Give me one ibuprofen, taken on a full stomach with ranitidine, and I promptly develop two weeks of stomach pain. Actually, I'm crap with painkillers in general, it's an absolute nuisance. I do take echium oil (best veggie alternative to fish oil), not that I can really afford it right now, and I've been on ginger since I started dieting as I was getting chilly. No idea how much either are helping with inflammation.

Could you tell me more about how any injury will cause water retention?

I don't really know much about the precise how (at least not anymore). It was something I first learned in college in a two semester human biology course. You'll also see it referred to (but not necessarily explained) if you google "water retention inuries" or "water retention burns" (I didn't use quotes on google, these were just the words I typed into the google search box).

The "swelling" of an injury, for example is water (well actually body fluids) being diverted to the area. These fluids and the healing cells they carry are needed to repair the injury and fight infection, so the fluids that would normally be peed out, are instead diverted to the site of the injury.

Steroids for example cause water retention, because your body needs water in your body fluids to make the steroids and for other healing processes as well. Just as a course of prednisone will cause water retention, so will your your body's own steroids.


My knowledge is really fuzzy here, because it's based on two classes I took more than 25 years ago as an undergraduate psychology student, and information threaded throughout other classes in college and graduate school. And to be honest, I didn't plan on entering the clinical field so I wasn't exactly focused on learning the material "forever." So if you're interested in the specific healing processes and how the body uses the fluids and how it diverts the water in foods and liquids to the healing process, I can't help you there.
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:45 PM   #13
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Erm, I think your (very interesting) post accidentally got cut off there!

I suppose all I really need to know is that it happens. Any idea how long it usually happens for?
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Old 06-15-2011, 04:19 PM   #14
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I am also a very fair skinned lady, and I experienced an incident in which I do think is very similar. The day before yesterday, I ran/walked 8 miles. Huge accomplishment, right? It was amazing! BUT, I was sunburned so badly that I had to sleep with my shirt off covered in aloe and vitamin e ointment. The sunburn has calmed down quite a bit, but I am still in pretty severe pain from it. Not only were my legs jelly, but my upper body, face and eyelids (??!!) were so sunburned and swollen that I've got horrible acne going on and I am up a few pounds. Now, I know it'll come off, but it's still frustrating. However, if that's what my body needs to heal, that's fine. I hope your sunburn feels better! I am the same way-I don't really get darker, I just peel and start from square one.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:27 PM   #15
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Erm, I think your (very interesting) post accidentally got cut off there!

I suppose all I really need to know is that it happens. Any idea how long it usually happens for?

LOL - yes hubby interrupted me mid-sentence and I thought I'd completed my thought so I submitted it without checking.

As I mentioned, none of the sources I read gave any indication of specific time frames. In fact they seemed to go out of their way to avoid it, saying it depends on how severe the burn/injury, how much area it covers, how well you heal, and what you're doing to help or hinder healing (are you drinking extra fluids, using sunscreen, resting and staying out of the sun or are you right back out there in the sun, getting more burn).

I'm not expecting a long-lasting problem, I donot think the water rentention will outlast the sunburn itself, so by the time my skin is back to normal, I expect the scale to be, as well. I'm guessing no more than a week.

Now if you get a super, nasty blistering sunburn, I'm sure it would take a lot longer.
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