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Alison Beaver

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ask: Why does even 5 minutes of sun cause headache - and 10 mins cause nausea?

My husband gets a pretty severe headache when in the sun for only 4-5 minutes, sometimes even with a baseball cap on but definitely when he is hatless. Today he was outside for about 4 minutes for a fire drill at work and his headache formed in 4 minutes of sun exposure.

20 or more minutes causes nausea and an hour, even with a baseball cap, can cause vomiting. Our summers are pretty hot and sunny (yay for me, nay for him!). I am wondering why this extreme reaction to sun happens? He did not grow up in a place with hot summers but I didn't either and I don't have this problem.

Anyone have any ideas?

Add a Comment112 Comments


Good to know you are not the only one with this or any other problem. I have had this sun exposure problem all my life. When I lay out in the sun on the boat or at home I have my head covered with a wet cloth. I found a bandana at walmart that you can wet in ice water or in a cooler, then put on your head works really well when fishing. Sunglasses and Ibuprofen helps before you go in the sun. Umbrella helps if you are in the sun for long periods and don't want to mess your hair with a bandana/rag. Drink, drink, drink lots of water, you can not drink enough in the sun. If i am cutting grass or working outside, I have a water hose close by keep my head wet and drink gatorade. Hope this helps!

April 12, 2014 - 6:59am
EmpowHER Guest

Well… i m only 19 and i love sports i love to play football nd basketball out in sun bt due to these serious headaches i cant enjoy the sun…i too have the same problem as above… i use hat and sunglases when m exposed to sun but still i have this pain whole night…i cant sleep or even think…i feel dizzy nd yes obviously nauesea too bt i have never vomited… is this a type of migraine??? Well i really dont know abt migraines…and ya can anyone explain about eyes colour issue??? i have a brown eyes and dark brown hair…please help me out with this :(

November 13, 2013 - 6:18am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

I'm unclear as to your question about your eye and hair color. Have you heard that people with lighter eye and/or hair color are more affected by the sun? (not including those with albinism).


November 13, 2013 - 12:00pm
EmpowHER Guest

HI . I live in India . I have had this problem since I was very young. Now Im in my 40's. I think its just an allergic reaction of sorts. I suffer from severe headache and nausea after being out long in the sun .

October 17, 2013 - 8:50am
EmpowHER Guest

I was wondering if any one else gets headaches while a sleep after being out in the saun during the day . My headaches are on top of my head and wake ,s me up in my sleep ..

February 22, 2013 - 9:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

Dear fellow migraine sufferers,

I experience the same sensitivities and have visited several different medical specialists. When I spend more than 30 mins in the sun - even if I'm skiing or surfing/swimming, so cold or hot - I get severe headaches in the front of my head and sometimes nausea. Here's what I've learned in the past few years.

1. Intense sun and dry weather. I grew up in the northeast and never experienced this problem until I moved to LA a few years ago. Even now when I visit the northeast in the middle of a hot and humid summer, I don't experience this problem. The sun in LA is much more intense (closer to the equator) and the weather is very dry. Dry weather increases your eye's sensitivity. Which makes sense because I see a remarkable difference between when I'm wearing contact lenses or glasses. With contact lenses, my eyes are already drier and I almost always get the headaches in the sun. With regular glasses, my eyes are more moist, and I sometimes get away with avoiding the headaches. So dry weather and intense sunlight are one cause of migraines. It's not the heat for me (I love saunas and never experiences headaches there).

2. Polarized sunglasses and hat. While these do help (I invested in $200 ray-ban polarized sunglasses), I still get headaches even when I'm out with sunglasses and a hat. I read above that someone suggested black plastic sunglasses, and I think he/she is right. I have a cheap, disposable pair that I got at some pool party and they are so dark and thick, I don't get headaches when I wear those. It may be because they are thicker, I don't know, but I need to buy a few more.

3. Pain relievers. If I take any kind of medication with IB profin in advance or going out in the sun or right when the pain starts, then I'm good. But if I wait until the pain has set in, it will take hours to heal. Because this pain is responsive to IB profin, it means that muscles are involved. For me, I feel it in my eye muscles and feel like the pain comes from squinting. I don't think, for example, that I will get these headaches if I have my eyes closed and am out in the sun. And just like other posts above, I can even get these headaches if I'm in a home that very bright. I often get it in the car.

4. Solutions. I'd love to hear more about what has worked for other people - besides wearing a hat and polarized sunglasses and staying hydrated. One doctor recently told me that Butter-bur (sold at health food stores) helps with migraines. I may try accupuncture soon.

Yours truly,
Migraines in LA

November 18, 2012 - 10:15am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

My question is how much water do either you or the original poster consume because headaches are generally caused by dehydration and especially more so when one is exposed to the sun, symptoms can become worse. I do think that the color of your hair and especially your eye color play into affect how much sun your body absorbs and at what rate. Different colors absorb or deflect uv rays better. If your have blue eyes or red hair you tend to get twice as much sun absorbtion than someone with brown eyes or brown hair.

February 8, 2013 - 7:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

I've had sun induced headaches for a long time, but I think I just found the culprit while on vacation in Hawaii. It's chemical sunscreens! I switched to a non-nano, zinc oxide sunscreen and my headaches and slight nausea have cleared up completely. I'm amazed. Of course I still wear a hat, sunglasses, and seek shade whenever possible. The best ones I've found are Badger brand, Loving Naturals, and Raw Elements. In most cases these are available in health food stores. The only downside is you have to rub them in to get rid of the white tint, but it's well worth the effort to have a sun filled day with no headache. One other great tip is to freeze a bottle of water and then apply that when your head starts to get hot. It works wonders pressed against your eyes. I hope this information helps someone.

November 11, 2012 - 5:50pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

No I don't think it's the sunscreen as I've never used any type of sunsreen in my life and I too suffer w/these sun induced headaches. I am also a migraine sufferer.

May 30, 2013 - 1:05pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Unfortunately, I am not in the sun long enough to think about using sunscreen. Although, my family uses Aubrey Organics sunscreen you might like too. Glad you found some help for headaches.
~ M

November 12, 2012 - 5:29pm
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