We are well into the summer months! Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine. It’s easy to rush out the door and forget to put on your sunscreen or just spend too much time outdoors basking in the sun. Even though we advocate for safe sun protection–sunburns happen. Here are some ways to treat a sunburn and prevent them in the future.

What is Sunburn?

Sunburn is damage to skin tissue caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s light. Over-exposure to the sunlight causes damage to the skin’s DNA, which triggers the body to repair the damage. The burn then results in reddish skin, which can be hot to the touch.

Prolonged exposure to UV light over a number of years can result in malignant skin tumors that require surgery and chemotherapy to treat, according to the Mayo Clinic. Taking care to avoid sunburn and excessive exposure to UV light can help limit the potential of skin cancer. Using tanning beds is a major contributor to skin cancer as well, and should be avoided.

Side Effects of Sunburn

Sunburn can cause a number of problems aside from reddened, hot and itchy skin. Individuals who get sunburn can experience headaches, nausea and vomiting from over-exposure. Dizziness, pain in the sunburned area and eventual peeling of the skin also result.

In severe cases, the skin can become blistered. If symptoms are painful and prolonged, an individual may require medical attention to relieve the pain and prevent dehydration and illness.

Preventing Sunburn

Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes in very bright sunlight. The easiest way to avoid sunburn is to keep skin covered by clothes and stay out of direct sunlight. However, for summer, there are other precautions that can be taken to avoid the irritation of sunburn.

Sun damage can also affect the eyes.

Treating Sunburn

If sunburn does occur, there is little that can be done to treat it aside from alleviating the symptoms. The body heals itself over time, and treating the symptoms of sunburn can help relieve the itching and pain.

Aloe vera is commonly used to alleviate the pain of burns. It is available in gel form and as a soothing spray. Apply the aloe as often as needed and spread it over the burned area. Anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers can also help relieve the pain of sunburn.

Keep hydrated. The body is better able to heal itself when properly hydrated, and sunburn itself can contribute to dehydration. Wear loose-fitting clothes to avoid irritating the burn. Taking a cool shower or bath can also help to temporarily relieve the burn and itch of sunburn.

Sunburn is an irritating, painful condition that can have very serious health consequences later on in life. Preventing sunburn is an important part of making sure summer is a fun, healthy time for everyone. Taking care to limit sun exposure and apply sunscreen regularly will help to keep summer free of sunburn.

Source: Mayoclinic.com, Article published by Bailey Shoemaker Richards.

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