It’s always a fun to spend time in the sun but nothing comes free. Sun gives you burn in return for spending time outdoors with him. Although as per the study ‘Women who never sunbathe during the summer are twice more likely to die than those who sunbathe every day’ but excess of everything is bad and spending too much time in the sun does not only mean a temporary pain, sunburn can put you on an increased risk for skin cancer. According to the Cancer Council, frequent sunburn is one of the leading causes of melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer.
What Causes Sunburn?
It is a known fact that when our skin gets exposed too long to the sun, Sunburn hits our body. But sunburn isn’t always visible. Let’s discuss in brief how the sun hits our skin?
Out of the three wavelengths of ultraviolet light given off by the sun, UVC light does not reach the surface of the earth. The other two lights: UVA and UVB, reaches the surface of the earth and penetrates your skin, causing damage to it. These lights when reaches the surface of the earth has power to even alter your DNA, thereby prematurely aging your skin. When DNA gets damaged, over the time, it contributes to skin cancers, including melanoma.
In simple terms, sunburn occurs when harmful radiation gets to our skin.
Symptoms of Sunburn
Repeated exposure to the sun over the course of the summer season can be very dangerous and it is advised not to expose your skin to sun past the point of pinking. There are few symptoms of sunburn which are not immediately visible but become obvious after few hours of overexposure: PRESS.
- P- Peeling or flaking of the skin
- R- Redness of the skin or erythema
- E- Extreme dryness or wrinkling of the skin
- S- Skin that's warm or hot to the touch
- S- Skin feels discomfort when gets touched or rubbed against clothes
Prevention is better than cure
Although too much exposure to the sun causes damage to skin, there are many benefits of sun also, so one cannot avoid the rays of sunlight to hit the skin, but it is important to be smart. Following few smart precautions will make sure that you are getting maximum benefits from the sun rather than the risks associated with it.
- Using a good Sunscreen
As mentioned, the two types of wavelength given off by sun: UVA and UVB reach the earth surface, penetrating our skin and increases our chances to get hit by skin cancer. UVB rays can cause the skin to burn and UVA rays cause premature aging such as wrinkles and dark spots. So, in order to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, it is highly advisable to use a good sunscreen to avoid any contact with such rays.
Sunscreen's SPF helps to measure the level of skin protection from UVB rays. If your skin turns red in 20 minutes after the exposure to sun, then a sunscreen with SPF15 is recommended for your skin to prevent sunburn. One should use a product that has an SPF of at least 15.
Apply the sunscreen generously and 30 minutes before planning to go outside in the sun. Less application of Sunscreen won’t give you full and proper benefits and you may end up burning your skin.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap
When we talk about face and eyes, the skin around these areas is thinner than any other areas of your body and hence it is at more risk of skin damage and premature wrinkling. If the weather outside is too hot to protect your skin by covering with light clothing, it is advised to use hat or cap apart from using sunscreen to avoid the harmful sun rays to reach your face and eyes.
You can take few other precautions by covering your skin with slacks, long-sleeved shirts or blouses and using wrap-around sunglasses, to stay away from the harmful UV rays radiated by the sun.
- Avoid going out in sun during peak hours
You are at the great risk of getting a sunburn during the peak hours of the sun when UV rays are strongest: the hours between 10.00 am to 04.00 pm. The concentration of UV rays is highest at this time and heat is also unbearable. So, it is advised to plan your outdoor activities either before 10.00 am or after 04.00 pm.
It is easy to judge whether UV rays outside is strong or not. If the shadow is longer than you are, UV exposure is low and if shadow is smaller than you are, UV exposure is high and you are at high skin to get sunburn during that time.
- Base tan won’t do any miracles
There is a huge misconception that resides in people mind that if their skin is tan, it won’t burn when exposed to the sun. This is the reason of lying out to establish a base of tan skin to protect them. But the reality is that a tan is not a shield to protect from sun and tanning on regular basis can lead to long-term damage to your skin.
Also, it is advised to not to use any kind of tanning booths to get a tan. Artificial tanning devices can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Apart from the above-mentioned precautions, there are also some effective home remedies that can help you to get rid of sunburn naturally.