Sunburn Skin Damage

We've unfortunately all been there. Whether we have failed to apply sunscreen, reapply, or out in the sun too long- most of us have experienced the wrath of too much sun.

The resulting burn is the skins reaction to too much exposure of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Unlike infrared radiation, which is the heat from the sun, you can't actually feel UV radiation. This means you can burn without even noticing, even on cool and cloudy days.

Signs of a sunburn can be evident in as little as ten minutes. Within a few hours, your skin may turn red which can worsen over the next few days depending on the severity of the burn. Mild sunburns can be treated at home, however in extreme instances you may require medical attention. 

If you grew up in the same era I did, a tan was somewhat in fashion. Tanning oils and tanning beds were heavily marketed to give you that bronzed skin year round. Fortunately we know better, that in fact a tan is not healthy at all. Besides premature aging and wrinkling, repeated sun exposure can increase your likelihood of skin cancer. Sunburns and excessive sun exposure may damage DNA cells, and consequently cause abnormal cells to develop which may lead to cancer. 

How does this happen? The top layer of your skin contains skin cells that produce melanin, which gives your skin its natural colour. When exposed to UV rays, more melanin is produced which causes skin to tan. Despite often referring to a tan as a 'healthy glow' in fact a tan means the skin has been damaged from UV radiation. 

Whether it's a tan or a sunburn, it's all skin damage and all put you at higher risk of premature aging and skin cancer. Unfortunately this damage to the genes in the skin cells is irreparable. It all comes down to prevention. 

How do you prevent Sun Damage?

I think we all know deep down what we should be doing. "Slip, slop, slap, seek, slide".

Slip: on sun protective clothing. 

Slop: on SPF 30 or higher and reapply every 2 hours.

Slap: on a hat that protects your head, face, ears and neck. 

Seek: shade. 

Slide: on your sunnies. 

Whether it's sunny or not, use your sunscreen every day. Especially on the face. Cleanse, moisturise and sunscreen. Try to avoid being in the direct sunlight when UV levels are high. If you are out all day,  cover up, put on a hat and continue to reapply sunscreen. 

How do you know if you've had too much sun?

You'll likely experience:

  • pink or red skin color 
  • skin that feels hot to touch
  • itchy skin 
  • swelling
  • blisters in extreme cases.

If you are sunburnt, here's some treatment tips:

  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

  • cool compresses to the affected area

  • aloe vera can work wonders 

  • do not pop any blisters

  • keep out of the sun. 

  • If severe burns, go see your doctor.