SUNBURN 101


Without proper sun protection, the sun’s UV rays can definitely do some damage to your skin, the most prevalent and immediate being the sunburn.

Sunburn happens when the cells in epidermis layer of the skin get damaged and die. When your skin gets exposed to UV rays long enough for it to be harmed, inflammation and DNA damage happens, resulting in sunburn. That’s why sunburned areas are always reddened, swollen and are accompanied by the sensation of burning.

Mild sunburns, or categorized as first-degree burns, are caused mostly by the UVB rays of the sun damaging your epidermis. These are called first-degree sunburns.

Second-degree sunburns happen when the damage gets deeper into your skin, resulting in swelling and blisters. Second-degree sunburns take longer to heal and are more painful. Besides UVB rays, UVA rays are also partially responsible for deeper sunburns. UVA rays can cause premature aging, sunspots and even potentially skin cancer.

Not everyone gets sunburns the same way as there are a lot of other factors involved, like overall sun exposure and skin type. Overall sun exposure depends on how much UV light you’ve been exposed to compared to your skin’s threshold. Your skin type also matters, as those with extremely fair skin burn easier than those with darker skin (but the risk for skin cancer from sun exposure is still there regardless of skin type).

So what can you do to prevent getting sunburned? The first rule is to stay out of the sun if you can. If you do have to step out into the sun, wear at least an SPF-30 sunscreen. Apply it to your entire body and reapply every couple of hours. Wear protective clothing to cover up exposed parts of your body. You can also avoid being out in the sun even if you’re outside if you actively seek shade.

What about if you’re already sunburned? What can you do at home to treat it? Take cool baths or showers to relieve the painful sensation that come with sunburns. Moisturize your skin with aloe vera to soothe the burned areas. If the pain is severe, consider taking over-the-counter pain medication to reduce discomfort or swelling.

If your sunburn is too severe, contact your dermatologist to have it looked at and treated professionally.

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