Sunburn and How It Occurs

Sunburn is a type of radiation burn on the skin due to an overexposure of ultraviolet (UV) radiation which typically comes from the sun; but can also come from artificial sources, such as sun tanning beds. Suntans occur when the skin is exposed to lower amounts of UV Radiation.

Sunburn is the body’s response to direct DNA damage when DNA is strongly impacted by UV-B light. When the body identifies this DNA damage, it will trigger the body’s defense protocol which includes restoring the DNA’s homeostasis. This process also includes boosting the production of melanin which is a natural form of sunscreen that absorbs ultraviolet (UV) light and helps stop further DNA damage. The darker the skin, the more melanin is present in the skin. Because of this reason, individuals with fair skin generally have a higher risk of sunburn because of their decreased amount of this natural form of sunscreen in their skin.

Pharmaceutical products can also cause sunburn if they have a photosensitivity side effect. This can occur with phototoxic or photoallergic drugs. Some drugs associated with photosensitivity are tetracycline antibiotics, oral contraceptives, antihistamines, antidepressants and many retinoids.

There has also been an increase in the incidence of sunburn in most recent years due to the depletion of the ozone layer. This has led to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation throughout the world.

How Quickly Will Sunburn develop and How long will it last?

Individuals can get sunburn as early as 15 minutes and even within seconds if they are exposed to intense UV light. Usually, it is not immediately obvious that the person got sunburn until a little while later. However, skin may turn red as quick as 30 minutes if exposure was intense. It is more common for the skin to show signs of sunburn within 2 to 6 hours after exposure and pain will usually intensify 6 to 48 hours from the time of exposure. The burning sensation will continue to progress for 24 to 72 hours. The skin will then start to peel typically 3 to 8 days later. Itching can also occur with peeling and both can last for numerous weeks with Sunburn.

Symptoms of Sunburn

Within 2 – 6 hours, the sunburn skin will turn red with the most significant effects shown between 12 – 24 hours. In regards to mild cases of sunburn, the skin becomes red and is usually accompanied with pain and/or irritation. This redness and severity of pain correlates to the time length as well as the intensity of the UV exposure. Sun poisoning, linked to the most severe cases of sunburn, is accompanied with intense pain, blistering, significant dehydration and possible infection. An individual presenting with these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. Worst case scenario, an individual who has experienced too much sun exposure with untreated sunburn can go into shock which could potentially lead to death. The pain level in extreme sunburns can also be so debilitating that the individual requires hospitalization.

Other symptoms linked to sunburn are nausea, vomiting, chills, rash, fever, itching, skin peeling, fatigue, flulike symptoms, peripheral edema, dizziness and/or fainting. The skin will also feel warm to the touch due to the accumulation of blood which occurs in the body’s natural healing process. Skin lesions can also indicate a severe level of sunburn. Therefore, an individual who experiences blistering should probably contact a dermatologist immediately.

Treatment For Sunburn

The primary objective in treating sunburn is to avoid additional exposure to the sun. When the body experience sunburns, there is an increased necessity for nutrients and water to avoid secondary infections and skin deterioration. Therefore, it is important to hydrate and eat healthy while the body heals itself. It will take time for your sunburn to heal, with typical sunburns healing within a few weeks. However, there are things that you can do to help relieve your pain and quicken the healing of your skin. In order to assist with the healing process, you may want to place cool, wet wash cloths on the affected areas and take cool showers. One may also want to take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin to help reduce the pain associated with sunburn. Utilizing Oui Jesprit Moisturizer can also assist in calming the skin irritation while also reducing pain, itching and peeling skin.

“Last night I could barely sleep due to severe sunburn on my chest. I showered and used Oui Jesprit Oil this morning and it is hard to believe but I have felt no pain today, my skin feels so smooth and refreshed! I also use it on the sides of my heels and on the tops of my feet which are often very dry and they have looked great all day and skin doesn’t look dry at all! I can barely wait to use it again in the morning. I think this will be such a help to sunburned skin in our home this summer! It totally soothed my pain and just gave my skin the drink it needed! Thanks so much for a wonderful product!” ~ Amanda

Sunburn Prevention

Sunlight is important to our health because it does provides the body vitamin D. However, too much of a good thing can also be bad. The key is moderation. Too much sunlight can cause sunburn but has also been linked to significantly aging the skin. It’s important to protect your skin with sunblock and/or covering when outdoors. As noted earlier, a person can get sunburn 15 minutes or less depending on the intensity of the sun. The time frame when the sun seems to be at its highest intensity is between 10 AM and 2 PM. If possible, you may want to avoid being out in the sun during these times. If it is unavoidable, you should utilize sunscreen and cover your skin as much as possible to prevent sunburn and/or skin damage.

Sunscreens and sunblocks have been created to block UV light and provide some protection to the skin while out in the sun. The SPF (Sunburn Protection Factor) ratings determine the product’s effectiveness in suppressing sunburn on the skin. The highest SPF rating is expected to give the maximum amount of protection to the skin. Most sunscreens provide protection for both UVA and UVB radiation. However, UVA radiation is attributed more to skin aging and skin cancer rather than causing sunburn. It is good to have a sunblock that protects from both UVA and UVB radiation. It is recommended to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and again 15 to 30 min after exposure.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Sunburn?

When a person experiences severe cases of sunburn, they should immediately go to the hospital. These symptoms include headache, severe pain, blurred vision, the need for tremendous amounts of water, confusion, nausea, vomiting, allergic reaction, severe blistering, dizziness and/or fainting. As mentioned previously, severe sunburn can lead to shock and even death if left untreated.

The information on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not to be used for medical advice or instead of a doctor’s advice and/or opinion.

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