Summertime Safety: Sunburn Prevention
It is important for your health to engage in regular exercise, as well as, a nutritious diet. But there are other elements that can make or break your healthy lifestyle. Natural elements that can act as an obstacle. And in summer, one of the biggest obstacles is the sun. The heat of the summer season, combined with the ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause major skin damage in the form of a sunburn. At its least effective, it can cause painfully irritated skin, at its most, it can give you skin cancer. That is why today, we are going to focus on the importance of skin care during outdoor activities for a healthy and happy lifestyle during the summer season. Because if we can’t focus on other important aspects of health combined with nutrition, then you are only taking care of half of your health.
What are the Symptoms of Sunburn?
The more common symptoms of sunburn include reddening of the skin and pain. However, that is the most basic of its effects. That rarely touches on the more severe symptoms, as well as what happens to the skin during recovery.
More extreme forms of sunburn symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, weakness, dehydration, and headaches. It is colloquially called “sun poisoning,” and the combined symptoms oftentimes can make the person feel like they are drunk.
If the burn is severe enough to get into its second degree, then blisters will often form on parts of the skin. They will swell with bodily fluids made up of water and some white blood cells. Blisters will appear to provide a cool protective layer between the old skin and the new skin that is forming. That is why it is important to avoid lancing smaller blisters, and if a larger one pops, you want to keep the old skin on there as much as possible to prevent infection, as well as any extra ultraviolet rays of the sun.
How Do Sunburns Happen?
Well, sunburns are caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. There are three types of ultraviolet rays that come from the sun that are classified as UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB are the types of ultraviolet rays that can seep into your skin. UVC, the most dangerous of the bunch, is naturally blocked by the Earth’s ozone layer. The ultraviolet rays cause a radiation effect and damages skin cells that come into burn contact.
And how powerful is that burn? Powerful enough to take on literal strands of DNA. ”
Invisible ultraviolet light carries more energy than the light visible to humans, and this energy packs a tiny punch.
“When a UV photon strikes the skin, it can damage the DNA in the body’s cells. It does this by breaking the orderly bonds between the four nucleotides, adenosine, thymine, and guanine. So-called thymine dimers form, when two thymine nucleotides bind together, throwing the whole shape of the DNA molecule out of whack.”
It is produced by cells in our skin called melanocytes. Melanin absorbs ultraviolet light and dissipates it as heat.
Our skin can produce natural protection from the sun, in the form of melanin, a type of skin pigment. However, the amount of melanin we have varies from person to person. Darker skinned people, for instance, will have more melanin than someone with fair skin. Even if everyone has the same amount of melanocytes.
However, that does not mean that people with darker skin are completely immune to sunburn. They just need a little less assistance. That is why there is a range of sun care products for the prevention of sunburn.
So, what are some of the things to look for when trying to prevent sunburn?
Usually, the type of sunscreen that you want will depend on your age, how fair your skin is, and how long you stay in the sun exposure. If you are dark skinned and don’t stay out long, something like SPF30 will do the trick. If you are fair skinned, or you have a fair skinned child planning to stay out in a water park all day, then you want a higher SPF with regular application every couple of hours. Broad spectrum sunscreen is great for blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
What is fascinating about this part is that these rays are not exclusive to summertime. It just happens more often because people are outside more during the summer season. But the weirdest yet most fascinating thing about sunburns is that it doesn’t have to be the middle of summer for you to get them. “ 80% of UVB rays can reflect from surfaces such as ice, snow, and sand and increase UV exposure. UVA rays can penetrate through glass, such as your car window.” So, you want to stay covered just as a rule of thumb.
If you are willing to forego sunbathing and skin exposure, you can always use a cover, like a hat or a t-shirt to prevent ultraviolet rays from getting access to your skin. Also, you might want to just avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day, from 10AM-2PM.
Also, it is just important to stay hydrated, whatever outdoor activity you are planning to do.
If you were just so wrapped up in your own activities that you forgot about sun care, chances are you are already burnt like a rotisserie chicken. Thankfully, there are things that can be done for treatment. These treatments include:
- Pain relief – over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief such as ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can help relieve the pain and reduce swelling. It is best to take these as soon as possible. Some pain relief can be applied as a topical ointment.
- Hydrocortisone cream – may also help reduce inflammation and itching.
- Rehydrate – drink water to help rehydrate the skin.
- Don’t break small blisters – allow them to run their course. If one breaks, clean it with mild soap and water.
- Peeling skin – do not pick, and continue to apply moisturizer.
- Cool the skin – apply a damp cloth or towel, or take a cool bath.
- Do not use butter – this is a false remedy that can prevent healing and damage skin.
- Apply moisturizer – for instance, aloe vera gel.
- Stay out of the sun – avoid making the burn worse by exposing it to more UV.
If you see a mole that you are unfamiliar with, then you want to go to a dermatologist as soon as you possibly can to determine whether it is cancerous or not.