Soothing a Sunburn

Soothing a Sunburn

After the cold winter days, it’s natural for us to soak up in the sun for warmth. But as too much of anything is not good, it applies to sun exposure too.

What is a Sunburn ?

If you stay in the sun for too long without any protection, you may get a sunburn. A sunburn is the skin’s response to extreme ultraviolet (UV) exposure and indicates severe damage. The body protects itself from this harmful radiation by accelerating the production of melanin, the dark pigment that gives skin its normal color. When melanin production is accelerated, the extra melanin produced gives the skin a darker color, referred to as a tan.

Unfortunately, melanin can only protect the body from a certain amount of UV light. Eventually, if someone is continually exposed to it, UV radiation will cause their skin to burn in as little as 10 minutes of exposure!

After the exposure, skin may turn red in as little as 30 minutes, but most often takes 2 to 6 hours. Pain is usually most extreme 6 to 48 hours after exposure. The burn continues to develop for 24 to 72 hours, occasionally followed by peeling skin in 3 to 8 days. Some peeling and itching may continue for several weeks.

Sunburn can vary from mild to severe. The extent depends on the skin type and the amount of exposure to the sun. Sunburn is a serious risk factor for skin cancer and for sun damage. There is no such thing as a “base tan” – any color is a sign of damage. Minor sunburns typically cause nothing more than slight redness and tenderness to the affected areas. In more serious cases, blistering can occur. The earlier one starts treatment the more effective the healing process will be. Sunburn can lead to skin damage and sometimes it may result in skin cancer if not treated at the right time.

Symtptoms of a Sunburn :

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Extreme blistering or peeling
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Intense pain and tingling
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Headaches

Once the skin is burnt, efforts should be turned toward soothing the pain and aiding the healing process. As soon as it becomes apparent that the skin is sunburnt, the first thing that should be done is getting out of the sun, preferably indoors. Once the risk of further UV exposure is minimized, there are a number of things that can be done to treat the burn.

How to treat Sunburn?

Cooling and moisturizing

Cool your skin down with cold compression like placing damp towels on the skin or take a cold water bath or shower. After which, just pat dry your skin and immediately apply moisturizer to trap in water and ease the dryness. This will also help with peeling of the skin. Be aware of what ingredients are in moisturizing lotions. The skin can be hydrated by applying topical products containing Aloe Vera and/or vitamin E, which reduce inflammation.

Pain Reliever

Pain relief medication should be taken as soon as signs of sunburn emerge. It will not only cut back on redness and swelling, but  will also help with the severity of the symptoms. A low-dose hydrocortisone cream may also help reduce inflammation and itching.

If blisters form, do not break them. Breaking open blisters not only slows the skin’s healing process, but increase the risk of infection. If a blister breaks, make sure to clean the area gently with water and mild soap, apply antibacterial cream and protect the area with a wet dressing.

Stay Hydrated

It is important for people with sunburn to drink extra water to prevent dehydration and help the skin heal. If one experiences dehydration or suffering from heat stress, IV fluids may be given, and a patient may be admitted to the hospital.

Protect your skin

It will take a few days before you can go out in the sun again. But make sure you cover yourself with proper clothing, a hat and sun glasses. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreens meaning that it  protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. The best protection is achieved by applying 15 to 30 minutes before exposure, followed by one reapplication 15 to 30 minutes after exposure begins. Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, sweating, and rubbing.

Without due caution, anyone can become sunburnt. You can easily prevent the damage by taking precautions when you are out enjoying the sun. If at all it happens, you will now know how to cope with this uncomfortable condition. So don’t avoid the fun, just avoid the sunburn.