What is Sunburn?

Sunburn is the result of not using proper skin protection while sunbathing or even from routine sun exposure. The skin becomes red, tender and swollen. You may have a stinging sensation and blistering may occur. Some people even get a low grade fever. The skin will eventually shed or peel, once the skin underneath has renewed itself.

Everyone, even dark skinned persons, are at risk for sunburn.

Redness, pain, swelling, and even blistering can occur from this over exposure. Peeling of the skin usually follows several days later. The pain of sunburn is usually greatest between 6 and 48 hours after exposure.

Sunburn Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of sunburn include

  • Pinkness or redness.

  • Skin that feels warm or hot to the touch.

  • Pain or tenderness.

  • Swelling.

  • Small fluid-filled blisters, which may break.

  • Headache, fever and fatigue if sunburn covers a large area.

Any part of your body, including your earlobes, scalp and lips can burn. Your eyes, which are extremely sensitive to the sun's ultraviolet light, can also burn. Sunburned eyes may feel painful or gritty.

Signs and symptoms of sunburn usually appear within a few hours after sun exposure. But it may take a day or more to know the full extent and severity of sunburn.

Pain usually peaks six hours to 48 hours after exposure to ultraviolet light. Within a few days, your body starts to heal itself by "peeling" the top layer of damaged skin. After peeling, your skin may temporarily have an irregular color and pattern. Depending on the severity, it may take several days or up to three weeks for the sunburn to heal.

What Causes Sunburn?

Sunburn is caused by excessive exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet light source. Sunburn occurs because the body is unable to make enough melanin (protective pigment in the skin) to protect the skin. Sunburn may occur in less than 15 minutes of sun exposure for light-skinned persons while it may take hours for a dark-skinned person to develop a sunburn.

What are the Side Effects?

Some of the side effects of sunburn are: irreversible skin damage and melanoma skin cancer.

Protect your skin

You can protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, hats and clothes that cover your body. Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet light, thus reducing the amount of UV light that reaches the skin.

  • The sun is most intense between 10am and 3pm so limit your sun exposure during these hours.

  • Clouds don't block UV radiation. To avoid getting burned on overcast days, wear sunscreen.

  • Wear UV filtering sunglasses to protect your eyes.

  • Use lip balm with sunscreen to protect lips from burning.

Wear sunscreen when you are swimming in an outdoor pool. You can get a sunburn while swimming.


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