Sunburn – 2

Causes of sunburn
Sunburn is a result of overexposure to the harmful ultraviolet or UV rays of the sun. UV rays are of two types – UVA and UVB. Other sources of UV like sunlamps and sun beds can also cause sunburn.
UVB rays get absorbed in the upper layer of skin called epidermis. In reaction to the exposure to UVB, epidermis releases certain chemicals which develop pain, swelling and redness that are related to getting sunburn.
UVA rays breakthrough into deeper layers of skin, damaging the dermis or the middle skin layer. The dermis consists of tissues responsible for giving flexibility to the skin.
Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB can increase risk of developing skin cancer.
One has higher chances of getting sunburnt if:
Live in an equatorial country
One is at high altitudes
One is next to snow, water or ice regions
One stays outdoors in the peak sun hours between 11am to 3pm in hot climates with clear skies.
Treatment for sunburn:
A few measures can be followed to treat sunburn
Avoid direct sun exposure of sunburnt areas by covering or being in shade.
Cooling-off the affected areas with showers and baths or by warm water sponges. Drink lots of fluids to hydrate the skin. Avoid alcohol as it can cause further dehydration.
Moderate sunburns can be soothed by using moisturizing lotions and after sun creams. Calamine lotion can be applied to relieve soreness and itching.
Analgesics like ibuprofen and paracetamol can alleviate pain and swelling symptoms.
Severe sunburns can be treated with special burn creams and burn bandages. You can get medical help for dressings.
In very serious cases, immediate help can be sought from emergency and accident departments in hospitals.
If a baby or child suffers severe sunburn with blisters or fever, medical advice should be taken from the GP.
Prevention of sunburn
The below tips can help prevent sunburns and thus contain further serious complications from arising from prolonged exposure.
Avoid exposure to strong sun during peak hours between 11am to 3pm.
Fair skinned people should keep themselves covered in loose clothes and a hat, when in the sun.
Apply sunscreen with SPF15 or higher before going out, use higher SPF for sensitive areas like nose, lips and ears. Although SPF standards have been established in US, Europe and Australia, its best to check with pharmacist about the effectiveness of sunscreen before using it.
Select a lotion which protects against both UV radiations – UVA and UVB, for best results.
Wear sunglasses with UV filters.
Sunscreen should be applied in generous amount with special attention to skin close to edge of clothing like necklines and straps. It’s best to use sunscreen half an hour before stepping out in the sun and then reapplied after regular intervals if you plan to stay out for long hours. Even water-resistant sunscreen lotions can get rubbed off with clothes and towels and thus need to be reapplied.

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