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What is Sunburn and How Can I Prevent It?

Introduction

You’ve probably had a sunburn at some point in your life. Sunburn is a pretty unpleasant thing to experience. It can hurt quite a lot, and also cause a lot of inconvenience for us in our everyday life. When the skin is red and raw to the touch, any slight contact with a surface will almost definitely cause searing pain through the skin. Furthermore, it is often accompanied by peeling skin, which is not great to experience or deal with. The bottom line is, sunburn sucks, but why do we still get it so much? Why don’t we choose to protect our skin although we know we should? And what exactly is a sunburn?

What is sunburn?

Sunburn occurs from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. You can get a sunburn on any area that has been exposed to the sun and can develop a sunburn, with the more common areas being the face, arms, back, and legs. You can also get sunburnt on smaller parts of the body like your ears, lips, and scalp. A sunburn will show through the following symptoms:

  • A deepening or reddening of the skin tone
  • The skin that feels hot to the touch
  • Skin that feels very painful, tender, and raw
  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • The potential onset of fever, nausea, and fatigue

The symptoms of sunburn usually show within a few hours of being exposed to the sun. However, the severity of your sunburn may only show up after a few days. Usually, your skin will start to repair itself from the sunburn through the process of peeling skin. Peeling skin might cause some panic to you, but it is actually a good thing. The top, damaged layer of the skin peels off to let the fresh, healthy skin cells to show through.

When the UV rays reach our skin, it causes damage to the skin cells by triggering DNA mutations. Usually, our bodies have mechanisms that can prevent these mutations from occurring, but if there is too much UV exposure the skin cells are unable to handle it. The damage to the skin cells causes them to die. The blood vessels simultaneously widen which increases the amount of blood flowing to aid the immune system in repairing the skin. This is how redness and swelling occur during a sunburn.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops

This SPF 50 sun serum provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays; it is infused with Vitamin E and Beta-Glucan to guard against oxidative damage too.

$148.00

Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport SPF50

Water-resistant and lightweight, this formula defends against prolonged skin damage from UV rays and environmental assault as well as lock moisture in your skin.

$36.00

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30

Infused with Vitamins C, E and Pro Vitamin B5, this ultra-light lotion does more than just protect your face; it is anti-aging, hydrating and soothing as well.

$42.00

 

There are also varying degrees of sunburn severity. A mild sunburn will occur with some redness and rawness, as a bit of pain. You will probably feel rawness in your sunburnt areas for around three to five days. The skin will also probably start to peel after the second day as the skin sheds the damaged layer off and begin to renew itself. A moderate sunburn’s symptoms include skin that swells and feels hot to the touch. There will definitely be redness, tenderness, pain, and rawness. Moderate sunburns will take longer to heal, anywhere up to a full week. The skin will also start to peel and it might peel for a few more days as there is more damaged skin to shed. Finally, severe sunburn will likely need medical attention. The skin will blister and feel sore and painful. You will probably need to stay home and rest to recover, as it will be too painful to go about your daily activities. There will likely be very large sunburnt areas that are covered in fluid-filled blisters that might break. Some people even develop a fever from their sunburn and they are also probably dehydrated from their overexposure to the sun. Severe sunburns need up to two weeks for a full recovery.

How Can I Prevent Sunburn?

Sun protection is your number one defense against sunburn. Also, making sure not to stay in the sun for too long is crucial. Wearing sunscreen should be a part of daily life, and even more so if you are planning to spend time under the sun. Here is a guide to choosing the right sunscreen for you:

  1. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. If you are fair-skinned or prone to redness, you will want to get an SPF 40 at least.
  2. Look for ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or Mexoryl, which offer you protection against UVA rays.
  3. You need to apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen to work. Many people don’t apply enough which lowers the efficiency of the product. A good gauge is to use at least one tablespoon worth of sunscreen to get adequate protection. You also need to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears as these areas are also very susceptible to burning.
  4. You have to reapply your sunscreen every three to four hours if you are going to be under the sun for the whole day. Also, reapply after you take a shower or have a swim.

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel Fresh

Enriched with 99% fermented aloe vera leaf juice, this gel keeps your skin clear and healthy. Plus, it is deeply hydrating and suitable for those with sensitive or dry skin.

$8.00

Nature Republic Real Squeeze Aloe Vera Toner

Hydrate your skin and create a moisture shield with this toner that contains Aloe Vera Leaf Polysaccharides to give you silky, smooth and firm skin.

$19.50


How Can I Alleviate a Sunburn?

There are a number of ways you can alleviate a sunburn with simple products you might have at home. One of the most popular soothing treatments is aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel is very effective for instant relief for sunburns. You can place your tube of aloe vera gel in the refrigerator for an hour or so before applying it so that you get more of a cooling effect.

You can also use a cold compress on the areas that are affected. Soak a clean, soft washcloth or towel in cold water and hold it to your skin. You can also take a nice, cool bath to help alleviate your sunburn. Do not use any fragranced soaps or bubble baths as these can further irritate and aggravate the already sensitive and inflamed skin. Add some natural ingredients to your bathwater that will further soothe your pain and skin such as apple cider vinegar or oatmeal.

After the initial burn and pain of the sunburn have subsided, apply some coconut oil to the sunburnt area to deeply moisturize it. Coconut oil is an excellent emollient substance that will lock in moisture, helping your skin barrier heal.

 

Conclusion

Sunburns can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, so take care when you go under the sun and remember to always wear sun protection. You should also wear a hat if you will be under the sun for a long time, and try to be under the shade between 10 am to 2 pm when the sun is hottest. Sunburn can have long-term impacts like skin cancer, so be careful and stay safe!

Recommended Products

No. ProductsPriceBuy
1Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops

This SPF 50 sun serum provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays; it is infused with Vitamin E and Beta-Glucan.
$148Shop
2Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport SPF50

Water-resistant and lightweight, this formula defends against prolonged skin damage from UV rays and environmental assault.
$36Shop
3Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30

Infused with Vitamins C, E and Pro Vitamin B5, this ultra-light lotion does more than just protect your face; it is anti-aging too.
$42Shop
4Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel Fresh

Enriched with 99% fermented aloe vera leaf juice, this gel keeps your skin clear and healthy. Plus, it is deeply hydrating.
$8Shop
5Nature Republic Real Squeeze Aloe Vera Toner

Hydrate your skin and create a moisture shield with this toner that contains Aloe Vera Leaf Polysaccharides for silky skin.
$19.50Shop

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