I looked like a tomato for a week and felt like my face was going to explode – don’t make my mistake | The Sun

A WOMAN has told how she was left looking like a tomato after sun poisoning made her feel like her face was going to 'explode'.

Hannah Moussa was on holiday in Egypt visiting family with her little sister Sarah last month when the pair accidentally fell asleep while out catching some rays by the sea.

The 21-year-old said they retreated indoors to discover that their faces were as 'bright red' as a 'traffic light' and after having no luck scouring the area for some aftersun, plastered wet flannels on their sore skin.

But the duo woke up the following morning to faces that were so swollen they looked like they'd 'swallowed bees' and they also suffered from headaches, vomiting and eventually blisters.

The sisters were diagnosed with sun poisoning or polymorphic light eruption – a case of severe sunburn after being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun for an extended period of time.

Hilarious candid photos captured by Hannah show her and 18-year-old Sarah's fluorescent red faces glowing like tomatoes – before they swelled up horrifically and eventually began to peel.

The retail manager said they were forced to stay indoors for the final two days of their holiday and although it took a week for their swelling to subside, she still has patches on her skin.

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Hannah is now keen to raise awareness of the importance of wearing sun cream and for women who are on the pill or have acne treatment to be vigilant of their skin becoming more sensitive.

Getting sunburnt increases your risk of skin cancer, and to protect yourself you should wear the correct sun screen.

The NHS says you should use an SPF of at least 30 for protection with a 4-star UVA rating.

Hannah, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, said: "I've had lots of comments like 'oh, red traffic light' or 'tomato'.

"I definitely looked like a tomato.

"My sister's face looked like a balloon and it was physically stretching, she said she couldn't even do expressions because it was so tight.

"I had that a little bit, but it wasn't as bad as hers. Even smiling and laughing, it felt like my face was going to explode."

Hannah said they were enjoying the sun for around five hours before discovering they'd been severely burnt.

Hannah said: "When we were out there we went to the seaside for a few days and sat in the sun one day and we, stupidly to be fair, fell asleep.

"We don't usually burn at all, we've both never sunburnt before.

"When we went inside we realised how red we were. It was bad and we didn't really know what to do.

"It was bright red and obviously sore to touch, as a normal sunburn would be.

"We didn't have sun cream on, we don't usually wear it when we're away in Egypt or in the sun because we never burn. I know you should anyway but we never have as we don't burn."

She said it was mainly their faces that were burnt, but that their arms and legs were also too.

As the day progressed they started to become unwell as she had a headache and was sick two or three times a day for three days.

Hannah said: "When we woke up the next day it looked like we'd swallowed a bee or something. Our faces were so swollen.

"Our family were getting a bit worried about it so they called the doctor who said we had sun poisoning.

"I'd never even heard of it until he said that. I knew you could get sun stroke but I never knew you could actually be poisoned by the sun.

"The next day after that it was just getting progressively worse. Our faces were just getting bigger and bigger pretty much.

"Obviously we felt really hot and couldn't cool down. We had a headache, were being sick, had hot skin and there were blisters all over our faces."

The pair were forced to stay indoors for the final two days of their holiday before they flew home.

Hannah said: "We had a fan on and were just sat with wet flannels all over our face. Another thing we used was starch and cold water and that actually helped the most I would say.

"We had a couple of comments when we were coming back from the airport.

"The people at the check-in desk and border control in Egypt were making jokes and pointed at Sarah's passport and were like 'this is her' and then pointed at her and were like 'this isn't the same person'.

"We were a little bit worried as she didn't look at all like her passport photo.


Sun poisoning refers to a case of severe sunburn. It occurs after you’ve been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun for an extended period of time.

Also known as polymorphic light eruption, sun poisoning can come in different forms based on your sensitivity to the sun. Unlike a mild sunburn, sun poisoning usually requires medical treatment to prevent complications.

Sun poisoning is significantly worse than a mild sunburn. In addition to the usual sunburn-like symptoms, you might experience: blistering or peeling skin, severe redness and pain, fever (and sometimes chills), dehydration, confusion, nausea or vomiting, headaches, dizziness and fainting.

Sun poisoning can happen from being out in the sun too long, not wearing sunscreen, or perhaps forgetting to take extra precautions if you’re at an increased risk for sunburn.

You may also be at an increased risk of sun poisoning if you: have fair skin; have relatives who’ve had skin cancer; are taking antibiotics; take oral contraceptives; are using certain herbal supplements, such as St. John’s wort; apply citrus oils to the skin prior to sun exposure; live in a region that’s near the equator ;reside in high altitudes (such as mountainous regions); frequent the beach, as sunlight reflects more intensely off sand and water; engage in regular snow activities during the winter – sun reflects off snow, too; are using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as chemical peel.

"Every point we went through someone made a comment and we were like 'oh no'.

"We went out for a family member's birthday [after coming home] and we were meant to go somewhere nice but instead we went to the quietest restaurant and sat right at the back away from everyone, we were so embarrassed."

Hannah claims that her and Sarah are on the same contraceptive pill and a side-effect is skin sensitivity, which was also compounded by acne medication she'd previously taken.

She shared her experience online and her post amassed more than 16,500 likes, comments and shares.

Hannah said: "I'd tell people not to sit in the sun for too long and if you are wear a hat or use an umbrella or something.

"Wear sun cream even if you don't usually burn, 100%, that's probably my main message from this. I'll definitely be wearing it now.

"Before I was so desperate to get a tan and it's just not worth it. Obviously sit in the sun for a bit but not for hours and hours.

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"It's just not worth going through all of that, feeling so ill and obviously there's long term damage as well, my skin is still patchy now.

"My other advice would be to any girls that either take the pill or have been on acne medication just to be extra careful with the skin because I never realised how sensitive my skin was going to be afterwards."

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