Causes of sunburns and methods of prevention against it

When the skin is overexposed to sun, the ultraviolet (UV) radiation affects living tissues. Severe cases of such effect are called sunburns. Sun bathing actually causes sunburns yet it is vaguely indulged into by people for sun tanning. Health experts have clearly stated the harmful effects of sun’s rays on human skin, most of which are ignored by people. Naturally, both adults and children suffer due such ignorance. More than 30% of adults and about 70% of children have experienced sunburns. However, with appropriate care, skin can protected from the harmful effects of sun.

Causes of Sunburn – Simplest explanation of sunburn is the exposure of skin to sun for unusually long period or regularly. It turns red and, at times, irritated. The effects are m ore complicated beneath the surface. Sun emit three form of UV light

  • UVA
  • UVB
  • UVC

sunburns

UVA and UVB radiation can penetrate skin of humans, while UVC does not reaches Earth’s surface. Sunburn is only the visible effect of overexposure while sun damage is the term used to denote alteration caused to the DNA, which may even lead to cancer. Sunburn depends upon

  1. Type of skin
  2. Intensity of sun
  3. Duration of exposure
  • Signs of Sunburn – Normally sunburn can be recognised by reddened skin, which may even hurt. Swelling and blisters can develop in case of severe sunburns. People may feel fever, flu, chill, headache, nausea, weakness, etc. due to sunburn. Later, the skin starts to itch and peel off as the body gets rid of damaged skin. Treatment of sunburn is directed towards relief from reddening, inflammation and pain. Some of the remedies in this context are described hereunder.
  • Compresses – Sunburnt skin can be soothed with the application of cold compresses or by taking a cool bath. In fact, submerging in cold water for a few minutes has several healing effect.
  • Creams and Gels – The sting caused due to sunburn can be relieved by the application of creams or gels that contain Aloe, Camphor, Menthol, etc. Such creams can even be refrigerated before application for better effect.
  • NSAIDs – Ibuprofen, Naproxen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs relieve swelling and pain caused by sunburn.
  • Hydration – Drinking adequate water and fluid rehydrates body and prevents dehydration and other effects of strong heat.
  • Avoidance of sun – People who have experienced sunburn should stay away from it until it heals. Normally, sunburn can be healed with the help of homely remedies. However, doctor’s assistance should be sought if following symptoms occur:
  1. 102° or higher fever
  2. Chills
  3. Severe pain
  4. 20% of the body or more covered by sunburn blisters
  5. Dryness of mouth, dizziness, fatigue, thirst, reduction of urination, etc.
  • Prevention – People should stay away from the sun during its peak hours. When people have to venture out in the sun, appropriate clothes that provide sufficient protection against sun should be worn. Face, arms, necks and other parts of the body that remain exposed should be applied sun

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