Sometimes we forgot to apply SPF on our skin or fell asleep in a lawn chair and we know the consequences – sunburned skin. The bad news is that you’re certainly in for some red skin and pain. The good news is that the pain won’t last forever and you can shorter the time by properly looking after the skin. Of course prevention is always better (and we strongly advise you to prevent sunburn) than a cure, but fortunately, there are things you can do to heal your skin if you do get sunburned.
Sunburn – what exactly we are talking about?
A sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.
Sunburn is red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch. It usually appears within a few hours after too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine or artificial sources, such as sunlamps. Home remedies can usually provide sunburn relief, but sunburn may take days to fade.
Intense, repeated UV light exposure that results in sunburn increases the risk of other skin damage, such as dark spots, rough spots, and dry or wrinkled skin. It also raises the risk of skin cancers such as melanoma.
Symptoms of sunburn:
- Changes in skin tone, such as pinkness or redness
- Skin that feels warm or hot to the touch
- Pain and tenderness
- Small fluid-filled blisters, which may break
- Headache, fever, nausea and fatigue, if the sunburn is severe
- Eyes that feel painful
Duration of a sunburn
- exposure to the sun between 11 AM and 3 PM (when the sun’s rays are most intense)
- freckles or red or fair hair
- high altitudes
- ozone holes
- tanning beds
- certain medication can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn
We have to remember that any part of our body that is exposed to the sun can be sunburned. Even covered areas can burn if, for example, your clothing has a loose weave that allows ultraviolet (UV) light through. Some people are surprised by the fact that our eyes, which are extremely sensitive to the sun’s UV light, also can be sunburned.
Sunburn signs and symptoms usually appear within a few hours after sun exposure. But it may take a day or more to know how severe the sunburn is.
Within a few days, your body may start to heal itself by peeling the damaged skin’s top layer. After peeling, your skin may temporarily have an irregular colour. A bad sunburn may take few days to properly heal.
Heal the sunburned skin
You have to give your skin time to heal from a sunburn. It takes time for our body to replace the skin that was damaged. You can help your skin with the healing process by following our Skin Expert’s advice.
- Cool down the affected area of your skin – use cool, damp compresses or a bag of ice wrapped in a towel. You can take a cool bath or shower to cool your sunburned skin. This will help draw the heat from the skin and reduce redness.
- Apply a light moisturiser with healing ingredients (don’t apply anything if there are blisters on your skin!)
- Get rest – when you sleep your body’s production of certain cytokines that help your body manage inflammation. This disruption can negatively affect your body’s ability to heal itself.
- Avoid additional sun exposure. Exposing a sunburn to more UV rays can further damage your skin. If you have to go out, try to cover your sunburn with clothing and wear sunscreen.
- Stay hydrated. Sunburns draw moisture away from your skin. Drinking plenty of fluids and electrolytes can help rehydrate your skin.
Do not make these mistakes:
- Do not apply a thick layer of skin products ( balm, cream, or butter). The thick layer can trap the heat.
- Do not apply any product if you have blisters (we recommend to contact your doctor and ask for advice)
- Do not use creams containing fragrances. These can lead to an irritation of the skin.
- Do not place ice directly on your skin without a protective layer. It is too cold and can make the damage worse. Wrap the ice in a clean towel or dishcloth.
When to see a doctor
Contact a doctor right away if you get a fever along with your sunburn. You’ll need to watch out for signs of dehydration, shock and heat exhaustion. Look out for the following symptoms:
- feeling faint
- extreme thirst
- no urine output
- nausea or vomiting
- blisters that cover a large portion of your body
- signs of an infection in the blisters, such as pus, swelling, and tenderness
Prevention is the key
Remember to protect your skin every day and especially when you are planning to enjoy the sun a little bit more. Apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day to all parts of the body that will be exposed to the sun. If you going outside apply your SPF 15 to 20 minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply your SPF every 2-3 hours, especially if you are outside a lot, perspiring or if you have been swimming.
Protect your skin