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What to Expect From a Sunburn

Introduction

A bad sunburn can undoubtedly be one of the more painful skin-afflictions that you can feel. The rawness that sends a searing pain at any slight touch can truly be unbearable for a few days and you might feel like you’re almost handicapped. A severe sunburn can definitely cause you a great deal of pain and you’ll probably want to know how long this discomfort can last. Are there ways to make the sunburn feel less awful? And how can we prevent ourselves from getting a bad sunburn?

What is sunburn?

Sunburn happens when you have been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays for too long. It can be caused by both the sun itself or artificial light sources such as tanning beds, but we are probably more familiar with sunburnt from being under the sun. You can get a sunburn on any area that has been exposed to the sun and can develop a sunburn, including smaller parts of the body like your ears, lips, and scalp. The usual sunburn areas are the face, arms, and back. A sunburn can be seen through the following symptoms:

  • A difference in your skin tone
  • The skin feels hot when you touch it
  • The skin feels painful, tender, and raw
  • There is some kind of swelling
  • There might be some blistering on the skin, and these blisters may break
  • You might even feel the onset of fever, nauseous, and fatigued
  • The eyes might feel painful

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. You might notice irregularities in color and there might be patchiness but don’t worry too much about it.

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drenched Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer

A liquid cloud-like moisturizer that will shield your skin against UVA/UVB rays while keeping your skin hydrated while you sun tan at the beach or anywhere else.

$52.00

Dermalogica Prisma Protect SPF30

A light-activated moisturizer that provides broad spectrum defense while preventing future damage. It is made with antioxidant technology and protects against sun damage.

$65.00

Salameh Tinted Moisturizer SPF 44

With a medical-grade sunscreen, this chemical-free moisturizer works to protect your skin from sun damage while nourishing it with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and Zinc Oxide.

$89.00


Are there different degrees of sunburn severity?

Yes! There are varying levels of severity for sunburn and the degree of severity will affect how long the sunburn lasts, and what kind of pain you might feel.

A mild sunburn will show up in some redness and rawness, as well as some degree of pain. You will likely feel a tingly, raw sensation 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 will have symptoms like skin that is swelling and feels hot when you touch it. There will definitely be redness and tenderness, as well as a painful and raw sensation. Moderate sunburns will hurt more than mild ones, and they also 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.

Severe sunburn will likely require a doctor’s attention. The skin will probably be blistering, sore, and painful. Severe sunburn will likely mean you need to stay home and rest to recover, as it will be too painful to go about your daily activities. In a severe sunburn, there will likely be very large sunburnt areas and there will also be blisters. These blisters are usually fluid-filled and they might break. Some people might 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.

What else impacts how long a sunburn lasts?

There are other factors that affect how long a sunburn will last, apart from the severity of the sunburn. Some of these factors include genetics and the environment. Genetics plays a big role in determining how well you can heal from a sunburn. Light-skinned people are both more susceptible to sunburn, and will also take longer to heal from a sunburn. Light-skinned people have less melanin in their skin, and melanin is the pigment that acts as a natural sunscreen to absorb the UV rays that damage our skin. Another genetic factor is having freckles or red/light hair. Natural freckles are often a sign that an individual does not have sufficient natural sun protection in their skin, hence the darker freckles are meant to compensate for that lack of protection. If you are someone with these genetic factors, you will probably take longer to heal from a sunburn.

Another major factor is the time during which you were exposed to the sun. If your sunburn occurred because you were in the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, your sunburn will take longer to heal. This time frame is when the sun is the hottest and most intense, so naturally, being under the sun during this time will do the most damage to your skin. Furthermore, if you got sunburnt when you were on holiday in a tropical or equatorial destination such as South East Asia or South America, you will probably have a much more severe sunburn.

Evidence Skincare B Quenched

A rich moisturizing cream infused with Vitamin B3 and Hemp Seed Oil, it works to improve the skin’s barrier and is suitable for sensitive or dry skin types.

$68.00

Dr. Barbara Sturm Aloe Vera Gel

Made with 90% pure organic Aloe Leaf juice, this gel provides skin with soothing and cooling hydration while reducing irritation and supporting skin regeneration.

$70.00


What can I do to make a sunburn less painful?

There are a number of ways you can alleviate a sunburn with simple products you might have at home. 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 buy cool compress packs from the grocery store or drugstore. This will be a good immediate relief for the heat and pain caused by sunburn.

Conclusion

Dealing with a sunburn is painful, and knowing how severe your sunburn is important to know how long you can expect to manage this pain. Seek a doctor’s advice if you suspect your sunburn to be very severe or it is showing serious symptoms.

Recommended Products

No. ProductPriceBuy
1Peter Thomas Roth Water Drenched Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer

A liquid cloud-like moisturizer that will shield your skin against UVA/UVB rays while keeping your skin hydrated while you tan.
$52Shop
2Dermalogica Prisma Protect SPF30

A light-activated moisturizer made with antioxidant technology, it provides broad spectrum defense while preventing damage.
$65Shop
3Salameh Tinted Moisturizer SPF 44

With a medical-grade sunscreen, this chemical-free moisturizer works to protect your skin from sun damage while nourishing it.
$89Shop
4Evidence Skincare B Quenched

A rich moisturizing cream for sensitive skin, it is infused with Vitamin B3 and Hemp Seed Oil to improve the skin’s barrier.
$68Shop
5Dr. Barbara Sturm Aloe Vera Gel

Made with 90% pure organic Aloe Leaf juice, this gel provides skin with soothing and cooling hydration while reducing irritation.
$70Shop

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