A Sunburn is a radiation burn to the skin produced by overexposure to ultraviolet light, commonly from the sun’s rays. A similar burn can be produced by overexposure to other sources of Ultraviolet Light, such as tanning lamps and welding arcs. Exposure of the skin to lesser amounts of UV will often produce a Suntan. Sunburns usually develop as a result of over-exposure to sun or, less commonly, occupational exposure. The major danger of Sunburn is the increased risk of future Skin Cancer. At the cellular level, UV light causes DNA damage which may be passed onto subsequent generations of a cell’s progeny, leading to increased risk of Skin Cancer. Damaged cells die and release toxins which are responsible for nausea and fever. If many die, peeling may result. All Sunburns result in permanent and irreversible damage. One incident of blistering sunburn doubles the risk of Malignant Melanoma.
Anyone who continually exposes their skin to the harsh conditions of the sun is running the risk of skin damage known as sunburn. This condition can be quite painful and uncomfortable but, worse still, it can lead to the serious illness of skin cancer. In recent years, because of the knowledge we now have about the damage to the ozone layer, many people have become more wary about this overexposure to the suns rays. The ozone layer which is the part of the earth’s atmosphere that protects the planet from ultraviolet radiation, has been damaged by the common usage of things such as synthetic pollutants. Consequently, these ultraviolet rays are now more dangerous than ever before.
Often, we do not feel the effects of sunburn until several hours after the damage is done. This is because sunburn is actually a radiation burn rather than a heat burn. These burns are caused by the ultraviolet rays from the sun. These rays can damage the skin through penetration without the person necessarily feeling that their skin is overheating. The skin consists of an outer layer, the epidermis, and the bottom layer, the basal layer. It is the epidermis that suffers the effects of sunburn. This is the layer that contains the pigmentation cells which, when new cells appear as a result of the sun, is seen as a suntan. If there is not enough pigment filters, it results in sunburn.
Sunburn is an immediate type of sun damage but its effects may not show for several hours after exposure. Reddening of the skin and a burning feeling may take up to twenty four hours to occur. If the sunburn is severe, blisters may occur, causing damage to some of the cells in the epidermis. Sun damage from repeated exposure are much like those of aging. The skin shows wrinkling and thickening of the skin. Lumps that look like warts can appear as well as dryness and cracking of the skin. In modern times, the biggest concern to most sun-worshippers is that of skin cancer. Realistically, people who have often suffered from sunburn have a higher likelihood of contracting skin cancer than people who have never been sunburned. In areas where there is a lot of bright sunshine, such as Australia, the incidence of skin cancer is very high. In fact, Australia has the highest frequency of skin cancer in the world. It is extremely important to be particularly vigilant where children are concerned. If a child is often exposed to sunburn, he or she is at a higher risk of contracting skin cancer when they become adults. Once a person has been sunburned, the most important thing is to avoid exposure which will obviously cause more damage. Applying a soothing lotion can reduce the discomfort which will usually recede within a few days. Once the initial discomfort is reduced, the skin may peel. When the damage is severe, a steroidal lotion may be prescribed. These lotions reduce inflammation as well as the potency and duration of the sunburn.
There are a number of ways to protect the skin from sunburn. The most natural way is to gradually increase periods of time in the sun in order to build up a tan. The sun is also less intense when it is low such as morning and evening so it makes sense to enjoy the sun at these times rather than in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. Some people believe that they are safer when swimming but this is untrue. Although the water absorbs the heat, the ultraviolet rays are still directed on the skin.
Sunscreen should be applied frequently during exposure to the sun, and especially immediately before and after swimming. Some of the sunscreens available give virtually complete protection by stopping all ultraviolet rays, thus allowing prolonged time in the sun without resulting in damage. Of course, not all effects of the sun are negative and exposure to sunlight is necessary for health. It is essential for vitamins C and D and creates a healthy glowing skin. So, it is important to have some exposure to the health benefits of the sun but, like anything else, moderation is the key. Sensible exposure is a positive way of life but overexposure is nothing more than a recipe for disaster.
A round of golf or an outing at the beach may be a warm-weather treat, but even if you protect yourself from the sun’s rays, your skin can sometimes burn. A number of healing supplements that can relieve the pain and help prevent long-term skin damage are readily available.
Mild Pink or reddish skin that is hot to the touch.
Moderate Red skin with small blisters filled with fluid; blisters may itch or break.
Severe Deep red to purplish skin, with or without blisters, accompanied by chills, fever, headache, nausea, or dizziness.
How Supplements Can Help:
Supplements cannot prevent sunburn, but applied to the skin and taken orally, they can lessen the discomfort and damage that it causes.
What Else You Can Do
Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Avoid the sun between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M., when rays are strongest, and cover up with clothing and wide-brimmed hats.
Aloe Vera Gel
The best treatment for most sunburns is time — given a few weeks, they will heal.
General guidelines for sunburn care:
Immediate, temporary relief can be obtained by putting a cool, wet towel over the affected area, or taking a cool bath. Showers with high pressure may be too painful for severe sunburns – if a bath is not an option, setting the shower flow on low can help.
Men’s Health magazine (May 2007, pg. 182) recommends applying a clean washcloth soaked with cool milk like a cold compress. The lactic acid will help reduce inflammation and the cool towel will soothe the pain.Men’s Health magazine (May 2007, pg. 182) recommends Advil or Aleve immediately after sun exposure to reduce swelling and slow the cascade of damage.
There are numerous topical skin products that are sold over-the-counter to relieve the pain of a sunburn and keep burned skin hydrated. Many popular products contain aloe, aloe with Lidocane, or vitamin E. Some sources suggest lidocaine and other pain-relieving additives are best avoided, due to possibility of allergic reaction. Applying an aloe lotion or a good petroleum-free, non-comodogenic (non pore-clogging) lotion often is important to keep the skin moist, and reduce peeling and pain. More severe burns may be treated with burn ointments. Do not apply to open blisters!
Drink plenty of fluids – sunburn dehydrates the body. Eating high protein food will help with tissue repair.
Avoid alcohol, as this also causes dehydration. It also disorientates, which is increased when combined with long-term sun exposure.
If skin begins to blister, or if a rash, fever, severe nausea, or swelling appear, call your health care provider. If very severe, go to the emergency room.
Leave water blisters intact to speed healing and avoid infection. If they burst on their own, remove skin fragments, then apply an antibacterial ointment on the open areas. Cover with a sterile gauze bandage.
Such topical treatments aside, the pain from a sunburn can be treated with an analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Peeling sunburns are usually accompanied by itching. Allergy medications such as Benadryl are effective at stopping the itch. Avoid scratching the burn – this can cause scarring and worsen the pain.
It is best to avoid strenuous activity and heavy sweating for up to 7 days after the burn, as this may cause more discomfort.
Some common household or folk remedies include application of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, mustard, lavender oil, cold tea, yogurt, St. John’s wort, tomatoes, almond milk, avocado, or cucumbers to the affected area or areas. These folk remedies are largely untested, and may do more harm than good. St John’s wort, for example, is known to cause photosensitivity leading to increased susceptibility to sunburns in situations that would not normally cause them, although there is some debate as to the extent of this side-effect.
The most important aspect of sunburn care is to avoid the sun while healing, and take care to prevent future burns!
If you have a blistering of the skin then you need to prevent a secondary infection by keeping the area clean and by applying an antibacterial cream. Seek medical help if the area does not improve.
If the sun burn is severe then you may feel feverish due to dehydration and heat loss from the sun burnt area. Rest, keep hydrated and seek medical help.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.
Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Anne_Wolski, en.wikipedia.org and www.rd.com