Sunburn is probably the single most common skin condition of all. We are all exposed to some amount of sunlight throughout our lives and that exposure can lead to permanent damage of the skin. Individuals with darker skin are likely to be less prone to severe sun damage than those with lighter skin, but anyone can potentially suffer from sun burn if they do not take proper precautions.
In most cases, the burn presents as skin that is red and warm to the touch, with accompanying pain and swelling and, in the most severe cases, blistering of the surface of the skin. If the burn covers a large enough area of the skin, there may also be headache, fever and fatigue. Eventually, the damaged layer of skin will begin to peel away, leaving new skin that is healthier.
Causes and Treatment For Sun Burn
Sun burn is caused by prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause damage and artificial UV rays, such as those found in commercial tanning beds, are just as dangerous as natural sunlight, despite what some tanners believe.
Damage that occurs in the deeper layers of skin may take longer to present but it can be much more serious, including pre-cancerous growths such as actinic keratosis or some forms of skin cancer, including melanoma.
A medicine called Indocin if taken soon after a sunburn will help reduce the pain, redness and swelling. Indocin is available from your doctor with a prescription. Cold creams and moisturizers, as well as aloe vera lotions, will also help reduce the pain associated with sunburn.
It’s important to realize that sun damage is permanent and irreversible: exposure and sunbathing produce gradual skin damage even if sunburn is avoided. Ten to forty years can pass between the time of sun exposure and the time the skin shows signs of sun damage, so don’t assume that you’re safe just because you never had a serious sun burn.
With all this in mind, the best treatment is prevention. Don’t go overboard and try to avoid the sun completely, as exposure to the sun is the only way your body can produce all-important Vitamin D, but do take steps to protect yourself if you must go out in the sun. Wearing tight woven clothing that blocks sunlight as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep your skin from being damaged by the sun.
You should put on sun-screen or moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher every day before leaving the house. Recent research has proven that sunblocks specifically designated to provide both UVA and UVB protection work the best. And never assume that the higher the SPF, the better the protection. Even high SPF sunblocks will lose their effectiveness over time and especially if you sweat heavily or go into the water, so be sure to reapply sunblock at regular intervals to provide maximum protection.
You should also carefully protect your eyes as they can burn as well. Wear sunglasses whenever you go out in the sun and be sure to choose those that block 99 or 100 percent of UV light. Also, it is important to remember that the sun can do damage even on cloudy days so make sure you take precautions even when the weather is bad.