What are sunburns?
Sunburns are superficial burns that can range from mild redness to tenderness and pain. Severe sunburns may lead to blisters as well as fevers, chills, weakness, and shock. Sunburns are caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Sunburns may seem temporary, but can lead to long lasting damage to the skin.
What are risk factors for sunburn?
There are several factors that determine the degree of the sunburn. These include the type and quantity of UVR, skin color, and the thickness of the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin cells). For instance, fair individuals are more likely to experience sunburns than those with darker skin. Dark skin possesses more melanin than light skin and melanin provide some protection from sunburns. However, it does not completely prevent sunburns and has no protection from UVR damage. The sun’s UVR is able to penetrate deeply into the skin and cause serious damage to the skin’s DNA cells. Therefore, it is important to protect the skin from harmful sun rays regardless of skin color.
Another factor that plays a key role in sunburns is the epidermis. The epidermis is responsible for absorbing most of the UVR that hits the skin. Therefore, the thickness of the epidermis is an important aspect in determination of the degree of sunburn. The redness, swelling, and pain associated with a sunburn are caused by chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. The UVB radiation produces this redness by causing damage to the skin’s cellular DNA while the UVA radiation causes deeper tissue damage.
Lastly, the amount of time and the quantity of UVR exposure determines the severity of the sunburn. Therefore, it’s always best to avoid sun exposure when sun rays are strongest, use a broad spectrum sunscreen, and to limit exposure time.
What is premature aging?
Premature aging is early aging to the skin such as yellowing, dryness, thickening, and wrinkling of the skin. Excess exposure to UVR can lead to breakdown of the skin due to the loss of the skin’s elasticity. This will lead to sun spots and premature wrinkling of the skin.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is caused by abnormal growth of skin cells. The three major types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. A mole that is asymmetric in shape with a poorly defined border, different color variation or color change, new growth, and a diameter larger than 6 mm should be evaluated.
Tips on preventing sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer
Try to avoid or minimize sun exposure
Use a Sunscreen
Read more about the different types of sunscreens for more information on the available sunscreens and how to choose the right sunscreen.
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