Health & Lifestyle

My face doubled in size from ‘sun poisoning’ – I looked like Lenny from Shark Tale 

A woman was left devastated after her relaxing holiday was ruined by sun poisoning – leaving her face severely swollen and unrecognisable.

Abbie Leverseidge, from Northampton, flew out to Lanzarote earlier this month with her boyfriend, Kieran, 21, with the pair looking forward to spending time in the sunshine.

But on just the second day, disaster ensued as the 22-year-old severely burnt her face and noticed it beginning to swell, which friends said left her looking like Lenny the cartoon shark, voiced by actor Jack Black in the 2004 animated film Shark Tale.

Hours later, Ms Leverseidge’s symptoms worsened and she realised she had sun poisoning.

Not only was she in pain but the graduate graphic designer’s holiday was also ruined, as she hid her face for the remainder of the trip.

Abbie Leverseidge, from Northampton, flew out to Lanzarote earlier this month with her boyfriend, Kieran, 21, with the pair looking forward to spending time in the sunshine. But on just the second day, disaster ensued as the 22-year-old severely burnt her face and noticed it beginning to swell. Pictured, hours after Ms Leverseidge's face began to swell

Abbie Leverseidge, from Northampton, flew out to Lanzarote earlier this month with her boyfriend, Kieran, 21, with the pair looking forward to spending time in the sunshine. But on just the second day, disaster ensued as the 22-year-old severely burnt her face and noticed it beginning to swell. Pictured, hours after Ms Leverseidge’s face began to swell 

Hours later, Ms Leverseidge's symptoms worsened and she realised she had sun poisoning. Not only was she in pain but the graduate graphic designer's holiday was also ruined, as she hid her face for the remainder of the trip. Pictured, before travelling to Lanzarote

Hours later, Ms Leverseidge’s symptoms worsened and she realised she had sun poisoning. Not only was she in pain but the graduate graphic designer’s holiday was also ruined, as she hid her face for the remainder of the trip. Pictured, before travelling to Lanzarote

Friends said the sun poisoning left Ms Leverseidge looking like Lenny the cartoon shark, voiced by actor Jack Black in the 2004 animated film Shark Tale

Friends said the sun poisoning left Ms Leverseidge looking like Lenny the cartoon shark, voiced by actor Jack Black in the 2004 animated film Shark Tale

WHAT IS SUN POISONING?

Sun poisoning is the term used for a severe case of sunburn – caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays.

Dermatologists warn it can happen to anyone if they stay in the sun for a long time without protection. 

Wearing sun cream, sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing can protect against the reaction.

Sun poisoning can lead to headaches, fevers, swelling, nausea, dizziness and dehydration.  

It can usually be treated by getting out of the sun, taking a cold shower, drinking extra fluids and using aloe vera. 

Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, told MailOnline: ‘We see a number of skin reactions which can be related to the sun, including a sun allergy known as polymorphic light eruption, which may have been responsible for this reaction.’ 

‘It was horrible because I was so embarrassed,’ the Ms Leverseidge told MailOnline.

‘I had to eat dinner with a hat and sunglasses on, I refused to take them off so nobody could see my face.

‘I couldn’t be in direct sun, I couldn’t drink alcohol which obviously was so sad because I wanted to have my all-inclusive cocktails.’

She added: ‘I was filled with anxiety after searching online for other people that had it and saw how much worse it could get, especially after I noticed my symptoms were getting worse and my face was swelling more and more.

‘I didn’t know when it would stop or how bad it would get.

‘At night I was terrified to go to sleep in case I woke up with my eyes completely closed or feeling really unwell.’

Ms Leverseidge first realised something was wrong after returning home from a waterpark and noticing her face was slightly red.

She brushed it off at first but as the week went on, blisters began appearing on her forehead and her nose started to leak fluid.

She said: ‘Throughout that day I noticed I had tiny blisters, which just looked like bumpy parts on my skin on the top of my eyebrows.

‘My main concern at the time was my nose which was leaking fluid and stung.

‘Again though, I assumed this would be it and it would just disappear.

She told MailOnline: ‘On Sunday morning – June 11 – we were heading out to a market, and my boyfriend pointed out that the space between my eyebrows was swollen but it didn’t look very bad.

‘I’d never really heard of sun poisoning so I didn’t think it could be anything as bad as that.

‘That day I wore sunglasses and me and my boyfriend brought matching hats so I didn’t burn my head anymore.

She added: ‘We caught a bus back to the town in Lanzarote we were staying in and had planned to go to the beach, when I got on the bus I took my hat and glasses off for the first time and looked at myself on my phone camera.

‘I was in shock at how bad the swelling was, I had a huge lump in between my eyebrows, and the side of the top of my nose was swollen.

‘I panicked and showed my boyfriend, who also was in shock.’

According to the NHS, after being exposed to sunlight for a few hours or up to two to three days, a burning or itchy rash can develop, known as polymorphic light eruption.

Sun poisoning is the term used for a severe case of sunburn – caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays. 

Ms Leverseidge first realised something was wrong after returning home from a waterpark and noticing her face was slightly red. She brushed it off at first but as the week went on, blisters began appearing on her forehead and her nose started to leak fluid

Ms Leverseidge first realised something was wrong after returning home from a waterpark and noticing her face was slightly red. She brushed it off at first but as the week went on, blisters began appearing on her forehead and her nose started to leak fluid

She told MailOnline: 'On Sunday morning - June 11 - we were heading out to a market, and my boyfriend pointed out that the space between my eyebrows was swollen but it didn't look very bad. 'I'd never really heard of sun poisoning so I didn't think it could be anything as bad as that. Pictured with her boyfriend Kieran in Lanzarote

She told MailOnline: ‘On Sunday morning – June 11 – we were heading out to a market, and my boyfriend pointed out that the space between my eyebrows was swollen but it didn’t look very bad. ‘I’d never really heard of sun poisoning so I didn’t think it could be anything as bad as that. Pictured with her boyfriend Kieran in Lanzarote

Extreme sunburn of this kind can result in painful, red, blistered skin and even flu-like symptoms. It can last up to two weeks but usually heals without leaving scars.

It can in some cases also trigger headaches, fevers, swelling, nausea, dizziness and dehydration.  

Worried about the swelling, Ms Leverseidge rushed to the nearest chemist in tears and was given cream and antibiotics to help.

She told MailOnline: ‘My main symptom was the swelling in my face which over two days got worse.

‘It started on my forehead and nose and eventually made its way to my eyelids, the corner of my eyes and even underneath.

She told MailOnline: 'We caught a bus back to the town in Lanzarote we were staying in and had planned to go to the beach. When I got on the bus I took my hat and glasses off for the first time and looked at myself on my phone camera. I was in shock at how bad the swelling was, I had a huge lump in between my eyebrows, and the side of the top of my nose was swollen'

She told MailOnline: ‘We caught a bus back to the town in Lanzarote we were staying in and had planned to go to the beach. When I got on the bus I took my hat and glasses off for the first time and looked at myself on my phone camera. I was in shock at how bad the swelling was, I had a huge lump in between my eyebrows, and the side of the top of my nose was swollen’

‘It wasn’t necessarily painful but it was uncomfortable because my whole face was so heavy and it felt like I couldn’t open my eyes properly.

‘I also felt very tired all of the time and was going to bed very early every night, which was weird for me since I usually am a night owl.’

To make matters worse, the couple’s flight back home got cancelled and Abbie was forced to stay an extra two days in the heat while battling her symptoms.

She said: ‘Under normal circumstances, I would’ve loved an extra few days’ holiday but having to stay out of the sun was almost impossible.

‘I think this delayed me getting better, but I did try and sit in the shade.

‘I noticed it was going down on the Monday night but it didn’t fully go until the Thursday or Friday – despite having a blister scab still on my nose.’

Thankfully, after returning home, Ms Leverseidge began feeling better and she is now on a mission to raise awareness of sun poisoning.

She added: ‘I think sharing my story is really important because I know a lot of people go on holiday or even go out in the sun and don’t care much about their skin, or don’t reapply suncream enough.

‘I was one of those people because I assumed I “never burn” and it wasn’t “that bad”.

‘Honestly the sunburn on my face didn’t look or even hurt that bad initially, it wasn’t peeling and puss wasn’t coming out of it but still that small amount of sunburn caused me to come out in sun poisoning.’

She said: ‘Although I am very lucky I made a quick recovery and am back to normal now a lot of people get it a lot worse.

‘Getting a tan is great but it’s not worth having a swollen face and having to walk around in a hat and sunglasses constantly.

‘I wasn’t able to take nice holiday photos with my boyfriend, I was feeling tired and having to chase the shade constantly.’

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