Known scientifically as 'actinic dermatitis', sunburn is the skin's response to the overexposure to UV radiation. It can be defined as the noticeable reaction of skin when it comes to contact with invisible rays known as ultraviolet rays that are part of sunlight.
The skin turns red and becomes hot and painful. Severe sunburn can cause swelling and blistering due to the burn to living tissue - the skin.
While dark skin helps protect your skin from such a reaction through a large amount of melanin which absorbs damaging solar radiation, fair skin contains a smaller amount of melanin and therefore burns more easily and is more susceptible to damage.
In other words, such sunburn causes injury to the skin with inflammation, tenderness following excessive exposure to the sunlight. This problem is commonly faced during the summer season. However, cold weather does not make one immune to bad sunburn as the sun reflecting off snow can cause burns on exposed skin.
If the skin has been burnt, it could take months to return to normal and sunburn is also linked with skin cancer later on in one's life.
Sunburn peeling skin
Probably, the signature symptom of sunburn is bright red skin that is painful to touch. Peeling after sunburn is probably the body's way of getting rid of damaged cells. This is necessary as cells damaged by the sun are at risk of 'losing control' and becoming cancer. The damaged cells commit a sort of suicide by repair mechanisms of these cells. After this, the layers of peeled skin are replaced by other cells underneath those layers. As the peeling skin heals, it may become itchy. It can take months for the skin to return to normal.
A warm shower can draw out the heat of the sunburn. Warm water will increase circulation in the area while hydrating it thereby speeding up the healing process. The dry skin needs to be moisturized afterward.
Never put butter on a burn. This is a bad idea and can lead to an infection if you have any kind of cut. Children and babies are particularly prone to bad sunburns and extra care should be taken to prevent and give treatment with due diligence.
Sun poisoning includes nausea, chills, fever, dizziness, rapid pulse among others. If the injured skin is widespread, it can lead to nausea and other signs of shock. Sunburn, like any other burn is categorized in degrees 1-2-3 for severity. Serious and extensive cases should be seen by a physician.
Sunscreen is widely agreed to prevent sunburn. However, some scientists argue that it may not effectively protect against malignant melanoma - which can be caused by a different part of the ultraviolet spectrum. But it is not advised to use cream on children younger than age 2 unless the doctor suggests so.
Make your own homemade sunburn lotion and creams. These homemade products are natural, inexpensive and are effective. Methods to prepare your own all-natural sunburn remedies:
Cucumber sunburn lotion
¼ cup glycerin
¼ cup rose water
Chop the cucumber and squeeze out the cucumber juice with a lemon squeezer and mix it with glycerin and rose water.
Non medicated lotion 240 ml
Clove oil 5 drops
Peppermint oil 5 drops
Powdered comfrey root 2-4 teaspoons
Aloe vera gel 2-4 tablespoons
Mix all ingredients to be mixed together in a bowl and chill. The amount of comfrey roots or aloe vera can be increased but not clove or peppermint as it can cause skin irritation.
Sunburn blister treatment
Treating sunburn blisters
Small unbroken blisters less than an inch wide usually heal on their own in most cases. It is imperative not to break blisters. Just leave them alone and do not cover them unless some clothing is rubbing against them.
It is better to use a loose bandage to cover them and also to secure the bandage with a tape that does not touch the blisters.
If the blister is large and needs draining, it is essential that the hands are cleaned before touching the blister as they can be infected easily. To drain the blister, use a sterilized needle to gently puncture the edge of the blister. The fluid in the blister should be pressed toward the hole made. The blister has to be washed after it is drained and patted dry with clean gauze.
An antibiotic ointment can be used to undermine the possibility of the bandage sticking to the blister and softly flatten it. Alcohol and iodine are not recommended treatments. The bandage needs to be changed each time it gets wet or dirty.
Do not stay out long between 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun's rays are the strongest.
Wear protective clothing such as cover ups, long loose fitting pants, and tops and wide brimmed hats. Opt for lightweight fabrics that are cool and which will give sun protection.
Do not forget sunglasses, as eyes can get sunburn too. And above all, the simple way to avoid sunburn is to go in a shaded area. If the shaded areas such as a tree are not available, use an umbrella.
After severe sun burn, you may even develop vision problems that continue even after you get out of the sun. Other complications include fever that is not quickly reduced by home treatment, dehydration that develops from being unable to drink enough to replace the lost fluids, signs of skin infection such as blisters, or any other alarming symptom.