Sunburn – What is it and How to Avoid It?

November 12, 2012

Sunburn – What is it and How to Avoid It?

Sunburn does not only damage your skin on the day or days it happens, it also has many longer term effects. When ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin for an excessive time they cause sunburn. The direct affects are seen on the skin. The area of skin which has been burned will be red and have moderate pain if it is a first degree burn. Only the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is affected and this is normally does not required medical help.

If you have been in the sun for a longer period of time you will have second degree burns. Deeper skin layers and nerve endings will have been damaged and the burn will have extended into the superficial (papillary) dermis. The symptoms here include swollen, very red skin and blisters. This takes longer to heal and is much more painful. Perhaps medical treatment will be needed.

Many people enjoy the sun and it is now believed that sunshine helps our mental state and makes people feel better. Anyone who has joint and muscle issues such as arthritis or old age may find that the warmth from the sun eases the stiffness and pain. Others just love being tanned and they believe it enhances their appearance and makes them look healthy. However prolonged exposure to direct sun light can be dangerous. Besides sunburn, other issues can be heatstroke or allergic reactions. If you are in a very bright environment then you can even have problems with your eyes. It can lead to burning pains or decreased vision being possible as a result of over exposure.

In the longer term it has now been discovered that there is an increased possibility of skin cancers and cataracts. It can also be a cause of increased numbers of cold sores you get. Premature wrinkling in long time sun bathers is also common as is the presence of many brown spots on the body. It has yet to be defined conclusively but there also appears to be a link to a condition known as lupus. It is believed that excessive sunlight may have a negative effect on a lupus sufferer.

Paler skin types are more susceptible to sunburn. Individuals with freckled skin, blond or ginger hair and blue eyes are more likely to burn easily. Age is also a factor, toddlers and older people are more at risk. You can reduce the likelihood of being sun burnt by taking a few very easy steps. Initially protect your skin from the sun. This means use sunscreens, and wear clothing that covers your skin and do not stay out in the sun for an excessive time. Pick your time to sun bathe carefully, avoid the middle of the day. You are more likely to get sunburn between 10 am and 4 pm. The sun is at its most powerful then. Understand that just because it’s cloudy does not mean that you will not get burned. The sun’s harmful UV light passes through clouds. Keep away from reflective areas, such as white sand, snow or water because these act as a mirror and reflect the rays back at you. Obviously summer days are more dangerous than winter days. If you are at a high altitude you are more likely to be sun burned because the atmosphere is thinner and gives less defence. Being nearer the equator also increases your risk factor.

Take all of this into consideration when sunbathing and you should remain healthy and happy.

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