As a kid, most people have experienced going to a water park or beach to swim on a hot, sunny day. The thought of the cool water on the skin has always been relaxing to most people. There are many fun activities to do under the sun, such as swimming, beach volleyball and even just getting a golden tan while reading and drinking cold shakes. However, it is fairly common for people to forget to regularly put sunblock to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. As a result, sunburn occurs.
Sunburn is the reddening of the skin as a result of overexposure to the sun. It is a type of radiation burn that alters the living tissue of the skin. This is usually derived from overexposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. The sun’s rays are most intense between 11AM and 3PM. There are other sources of UV rays including tanning beds and phototherapy lamps. Most of the time, sunburns are first-degree burns of the outer layer of the skin.
Sunburn usually appears within several hours after exposure to the sun, with signs and symptoms worsening within the next few hours. Several signs and symptoms include pinkness or redness of the skin, skin that feels warm or hot to touch, pain or tenderness, swelling, blisters with plasma which may break, and in cases of severe sunburn, fever, headache and fatigue, called sun poisoning. However, blisters may indicate second-degree burns. No part of the body is exempted from too much sun exposure.
It usually takes a few days or more to disappear, depending on the severity. When the skin begins to heal itself by peeling the top layer of the damaged skin, the skin may have a temporary irregular color and pattern. Although the symptoms disappear, the damage to the skin is oftentimes permanent and may lead to serious lifelong health effects.
Intense sun exposure resulting to sunburn intensifies the susceptibility to certain complications and other-associated skin diseases, including dry, wrinkled skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis and skin cancer, as well as melanoma.
When one gets sunburn, advise the person to take frequent cool shower or bath or placing cool cloths over the affected area. If blisters occur, dry, sterile bandages should be applied to prevent risks for infection. Applying soothing lotions that contain Aloe Vera may help alleviate pain. Topical steroids may also help ease swelling and pain. It is recommended to drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids. Seek medical advice before taking and any over-the-counter medications.
Sunburn is preventable. It is always important to protect the skin every time there is a chance of sun exposure, even on cloudy days, as sunlight can still get through the clouds and cause damage to the skin. Doctors recommend generous application of sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every after a two hours especially after prolonged sun exposure. It is also recommended to wear protective clothing such as hats.
First aid training can teach home care remedies for sunburn. By finishing a course on first aid, proper treatment for different kinds of burns may be learned. Although sunburns are not medical emergencies, they pose serious pain and potential harm to anyone exposed to the harmful rays on the sun.