Why does our skin burn?
Sunburn is considered to be present when the skin is damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays. The most common signs that you have sunburn are: skin that turns red, feels sore, warm and tender.
There are two types of ultraviolet, UVA and UVB. UVB is the one responsible for skin redness. It triggers a reaction in the skin that causes it to release chemicals that turn the skin red and cause it to be inflamed. In the long term, it will damage the DNA of the skin and could cause more serious health problems, like skin cancer.
What are the signs of sunburn?
Sunburn is usually not fully felt until after a few hours after sun exposure. Depending on the length of exposure, the most common signs of sunburn are: painful skin,
a warm and tender feeling on the affected area, and reddened skin.
Cases of severe sunburn can necessitate immediate medical attention. Some of these signs are: developing blisters and swelling of the sunburned area, chills, feverish or flu like symptoms (i.e. feeling weak and nauseous and experiencing headache), dizziness and dehydration.
What are the dangers of getting sunburn?
There are serious health dangers in getting too much exposure to harmful UV rays. Some of these that can develop over time are: rough and scaly pre-cancerous spots, skin cancer, eye problems (i.e. snow blindness and cataracts) and premature ageing (i.e. wrinkles and deep lines).
Who is more prone to sunburn?
Getting too much UV exposure puts anyone at risk of developing sunburn. However, there are some people who are more prone to sunburn including those with fairer skin, those who have freckles and red hair, those who are on vacation and doing all sorts of outdoor activities, and those who live in countries where the sun is more intense.
It is also wise to note that snow, ice or water can all reflect the sun's rays onto the skin; therefore those who live in high altitudes are also more prone to sunburn.
Children and babies are also more sensitive to UV rays so they can get sunburn much quicker. Young adults are particularly prone to developing the long term health risks of sunburn because they tend to spend more time outdoors.
Be mindful of the time. Sometimes, the most common mistake of those who develop sunburn is not being mindful of the peak times when sun is most intense. Just by avoiding this time, which is usually between 10 AM to 4 PM, you will save your skin some serious sun damage. If you must stay outdoors, choose a shady spot that can block the UV rays.
Wear proper clothing and accessories. Wearing a long sleeved shirt and pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses can all help prevent sun damage.
Use the correct sun protection product. Using sunscreens with high SPF will definitely prevent developing sunburn. Make sure to apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes prior to sun exposure and be mindful of reapplying every 2 hours, especially after towelling off or swimming.
First aid for sunburn
Apply a cold compress to the affected area or take a cold bath or shower.
Drink plenty of fluids to cool you down. This may be water or fruit and vegetable juices.
Apply water based emollient such as Aloe Vera Gel to help cool the skin.
If the pain is persistent, taking pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol can help.
And while the sunburn is still healing, avoid exposing the affected skin to any sunlight at all.
What are the natural remedies for sunburn?
There are a variety of sunburn relief remedies to choose from. We have listed below some of the more popular and widely used remedies in helping to alleviate sunburn.
Apply a cold compress. You can either apply cold water repeatedly throughout the day or try the following:
A mix of 1 cup fat-free milk with 4 cups of water with a few ice cubes, apply the compress for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every 2-4 hours.
Lettuce water. Boil lettuce leaves in water and strain the liquid. Put this for several hours in the refrigerator. Dip cotton balls into the liquid and gently pat on affected area.
Cold yoghurt can do wonders for your sunburned skin. Stand in a cool shower afterwards for about 10 - 15 minutes.
For burned eyelids, you can apply tea bags soaked in cool water to help decrease swelling and relieve pain. The tannic acid in tea has properties to ease sunburn pain.
- Kitchen items such as oatmeal and cornstarch can also help soothe sunburn.
- Wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze then run cool water through it. Apply to skin for about 10 minutes then discard oatmeal. This can be done every 2 to 4 hours.
- Make a paste out of cornstarch by adding just enough water. Apply it directly to sunburn.
Tips for recovering from sunburn
Avoid using anything that can worsen dryness. This means not using soap, astringents or alcohol on your skin.
Moisturise. Use the right kind of lotion, cream or gel for a cooling and soothing effect.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that have known healing properties. This will help your skin recover faster.
Take it easy and take some rest to help your healing process. Page updated 06/04/18 12:47:36 p.m.