Sunburn is caused from over-exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. While the symptoms (such as red skin that is painful to the touch) are usually temporary, the skin damage is often permanent and can cause serious long-term health effects, including skin cancer, pigmentation, and premature aging.
Sunlight contains an invisible form of radiation called ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV A and possibly UV B can harm skin, connective tissue and increase risk for developing skin cancer.
How can I protect myself from the sun?
- Avoid sun exposure during hours of peak sun ray intensity – 10 AM to 4 PM
- Apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow penetration. Re-apply after swimming and every 2 hours while you are outdoors.
- Wear a cap or hat with a wide brim.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
- Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
What should I do if I get sunburned?
- Try taking a cool bath or shower. Or place wet, cold wash cloths on the burn for 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day.
- Apply a soothing lotion or aloe gel to the skin.
- Over-the-counter steroid cream can also be applied several times a day.
- Over-the-counter pain medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, including aspirin, may be helpful, and are excellent for reducing burn inflammation
- Red, tender skin that is warm to touch. (1st degree burn)
- Blisters that develop hours to days later. (2nd degree burn)
- Severe reactions (sometimes called “sun poisoning”), including fever, chills, nausea, or rash.
- Skin peeling on sunburned areas several days after the sunburn.