Sunburn can occur from either the sun’s harmful UV rays or other artificial sources of UV light. People often make the mistake of not taking sunburns seriously, but they can cause premature skin aging and even skin cancer. Efforts taken to protect your skin can work wonders if you get affected by sunburn.
You might have fallen asleep in the sun for way too long and woken up with blisters on your skin. If that’s the case, you don’t need to worry. In this article, I will take you through the details of sunburn, its types, causes, symptoms, and how you can take care of them yourself.
Sunburn generally appears after the skin has been directly exposed to the sun's UV rays or ultraviolet rays from other artificial sources like the sunlamp.
Although not always severe, sunburns are generally of two types. First and second-degree sunburns are not very dangerous and they can be easily treated with a few home remedies. Third-degree burns, however, require emergency medical treatment although they are very rare. Their occurrence can be felt after a few hours and can mostly be treated by home remedies. However, they might take quite a number of days to heal and disappear completely.
Repeated sunburns on the skin increase the risk of other damage to the skin including the appearance of dark and rough spots. In other cases, it also gives rise to dried or wrinkled skin. Sunburns on the skin can also increase the risk of skin cancer. It is crucial to note that sunburns can occur even on cloudy days, so SPF protection is of utmost importance whenever you are outdoors.
In these kinds of sunburns, only the outermost layer of the skin or the epidermis gets affected. It generally heals on its own in a few days and does not require medical treatment.
This kind of sunburn affects the inner layer or the dermis of the skin. Symptoms of second-degree sunburn might include blistering and it might take weeks to heal completely. It requires medical attention.
They are the rarest and most severe of all sunburns. In this kind of sunburn, all the layers of your skin might suffer damage including the fat layer beneath your skin. In severe cases, the nerve endings of your skin might also be destroyed. Third-degree sunburns require immediate medical attention. They might be caused if a person falls asleep in the sun for a very long time without any UV protection.
Causes of Sunburns
The sun emits various types of rays and two of them can be harmful to your skin. UV-A and UV-B rays have the capacity to burn your skin if exposed for a long time. The causes of sunburn might be numerous. I have listed a few below.
Spending long hours in the sun is an obvious way of increasing the risk of getting a sunburn. So, instead of falling asleep directly in the sun, it is better if you find a secure shade for yourself.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can increase your chances of getting sunburns on your skin. Apart from that, intaking antibiotics like Doxycycline and Bactrim, and retinoids can also increase your chances. If you take heart medications like diuretics, you might also get sunburn.
Your chances of getting affected by sunburns also increase with the intensity of the sun’s rays on your body. If you are too close to the equator or have sunbathed during the hottest part of the day, the chances of sunburn increase by tenfold. Whether you will get sunburn also depends on the altitude you are at and the cloud coverage in the sky.
Ozone bars the harmful rays of the sun from entering the atmosphere. With the increase in holes in the ozone layer, more and more harmful UV rays enter the earth and result in a higher risk of sunburn.
People with less skin pigment or melanin in their skin stand a higher chance of getting sunburn. Skin pigmentation including tanning also increases sunburn risks. However, you must note that anyone can get sunburned, so you can never be too careful.
Any part of your body is susceptible to burning. This includes your lips, earlobes, and even your scalp. Unfortunately, even covered areas can get affected by sunburns if they are porous and let UV rays through. Your eyes, too, are extremely sensitive to light and they have a high chance of being affected by sunburns. I have listed the symptoms of sunburn below:
Sudden changes in your skin’s tone or pigmentation. Sunburns can be easily noticed if your skin has turned pink or has a tinge of red.
If your skin feels tender and warm to the touch, it might be clear signs of sunburn.
Painful blisters or swelling on the surface layer of your skin can suggest sunburn. Additionally, if your blisters have become fluid-filled and delicate, you can be sure that you are affected by sunburn.
If the sunburn is at a very severe stage, you can even experience fever, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Apart from that, your eyes might burn as well.
The symptoms of sunburn might appear within a few hours of being exposed to the sun. However, it might take a day or a little more to understand the severity of the sunburn.
Depending on the degree of sunburn, your body starts to heal itself and this can be apparent through the peeling skin. After this procedure is over, you will notice that your skin has a slightly irregular texture and color. However, a severe sunburn might take several days and medical attention to heal.
You should visit your doctor if-
The sunburn is blistering and covers a large part of your skin
You have developed blisters on your face and other delicate parts of your body.
The sunburn is causing your skin to swell severely.
Your skin has become infected or is causing you pain. You can also visit a doctor if the affected area is getting filled with pus, or showing signs of redness.
The sunburn does not heal within a few days.
How to Treat Sunburn
The following are some of the best ways to treat sunburn. Read on!
This is the most obvious and probably the best way to ease the pain that sunburn might have caused you. Take frequent cold showers and this will help your skin cool down. Gradually, if you keep doing this, the affected area will start peeling off after drying.
As your skin starts healing, you might see the outermost layer of your skin peeling off. It may be tempting to peel it off but refrain from doing so. Your skin is delicate under the outermost epidermal layer and it is slowly trying to heal itself. Peeling it off might result in further skin infection and this might have long-term effects on your body. So, it is best to let it heal on its own.
Sulfates are a component in most cosmetic products and using them on your sunburned skin might aggravate it even more.
Aloe vera has natural cooling properties, and once your sunburned skin starts healing you can wash it with products which have aloe vera infused in it. Wow Skin Science’s Aloe Vera Facewash Gel is a great product to use if you need to exfoliate the dead skin cells on your face. Other than this, you can also apply aloe vera gel on your face and pat it dry. This will enhance healing.
Coconut Milk Shampoos and Conditioners are great products to be used on dry, flaky scalps caused due to the peeling skin. Oiling your scalp properly before shampooing it off is also great for peeling skin on the scalp as a result of sunburns. Wow Skin Science’s !0-in-1 Hair Oil boosts circulation and reduces flakiness of the scalp caused by sunburns.
Use Cooling Moisturizers on Skin
The best way to treat sunburnt skin is by adequately moisturizing it. The moisturizers should be used on a small skin patch and should be extremely mild and light in nature.
According to the Skin Cancer Organization, using a cooling moisturizer on the affected part of the skin, as it gradually dries, is a great home remedy for sunburns. Using petroleum or oil-based moisturizers can be extremely detrimental to the affected area because they trap the heat inside and also clog the pores of the skin.
As your skin heals after a sunburn, the affected area starts peeling off. Tearing off this skin layer might result in the area getting severely infected and the accumulation of pus. A better remedy is to gently exfoliate your skin using a natural body wash.
It works wonders for peeling and flaky skin because it is gentle yet hydrating, without any harmful chemicals. Gently massaging your skin with this product will leave it smoother with every wash and reward you with its fruity fragrance every time.
Exfoliating the skin to get rid of the excess peeling skin to make it look smoother is another home remedy. However, this procedure should only be undertaken after a few days, when your skin has healed from the sunburn.
A gentle scrub without harmful chemicals like sulfates and parabens should be used on the affected areas of the body. Also, instead of using any cloth available, you must use a gentle microfibre cloth to ensure zero damage to your skin.
The Wow Ubtan Face and Body Scrub is a great product. It has the goodness of walnut and almond powder, chickpea flour coupled with other botanical antioxidants that work wonders on your skin. Its turmeric contents have healing properties. Gently massage it on your skin easily gets rid of peeling and dead skin cells, returning your skin to its former tenderness and glory.
Adding essential oils to cold baths can also be highly beneficial when treating sunburns. Essential Oils have a great effect on sunburnt skin. Peppermint, rosemary, lemon, and other essential oils heal itchiness and inflammation on your skin while also enhancing the soothing effect on your skin.