Sunburn

sunburn

Summer is coming.  Avoid sunburn.

If you have fair skin like mine you know that sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes or in the time it takes to hang out the washing!  We looked at how to protect our skin from the sun earlier in the week.  Now let’s look at what sunburn is and what to do if sunburn occurs.

What is sunburn?                                                                                          

Sunburn is a radiation burn to our skin.  Sunburn can occur on cloudy days and even if we are not directly exposed to the sun such as when we are near reflective surfaces such as snow, concrete or sand.  UVA and UVB radiation both reach the earth though our skin responds differently to each.  Our skin does not have to burn to have sun damage.  Tanning is also a sign that UV damage has occurred.  Having a tan does not prevent against getting sunburned either!

UVA radiation penetrates deeper in to our skin layers and causes damage to new skin cells that are forming.  This can lead to dry, rough and wrinkled skin and also sunburn and skin cancer.

UVB radiation affects the surface layer of our skin and causes skin cancers as well as sunburn.  It also causes tanning, burning and aging.

Sunburn usually appear within minutes to hours of the burn occurring.  The skin can continue to change colour for up to three days.  As well as redness and heat, itching, swelling and sometimes blistering can occur.

Other ways to avoid sunburn

The old slip, slop, slap has gotten more fancy adding a seek and slide.  To refresh your memories that’s slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses.

Staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day is the best idea.  These times vary depending on where you are in the world.

Sunburn treatment

It is important to drink water as sun exposure can make you dehydrated.

Cool compresses and cool showers/baths can help (do not use soap as this may irritate).

Spray on pure aloe vera is great for soothing sunburned skin (especially if you keep it in the fridge to make it cold) and it helps with healing.

If there are blisters avoid popping them.  Hydrocolloid dressings available from the Pharmacy are great for healing burns.

Keep sunburned skin out of the sun until it has healed and then for a time after.

Nothing will stop skin from peeling if it is going to peel.  Apply moisturiser to the skin if this happens to help with itching.  Don’t rip peeling skin off but let it come off on its own.

If severe sunburn has occurred or if a baby or child is involved seek medical advice.

 

Exposure to UV radiation causes permanent skin damage and may cause skin cancer which can be deadly.

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