Sunburns are a painful condition caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Sunburns can range from mild to severe, and can cause symptoms such as redness, itching, and burning of the skin. Sunburns can also be painful when touched, and can lead to the development of blisters, peeling skin, and even skin cancer.
Knowing the causes and understanding sunburn is an important first step in treatment.
Causes of sunburn
Sunburn is caused by exposure to too much ultraviolet radiation, either from natural sunlight or tanning beds. UV radiation damages the outer layers of skin, leading to inflammation, redness, and pain. In severe cases, sunburns can even lead to blistering and peeling.
Sunburn is more likely if the skin is exposed to direct sunlight without protection such as clothing, sunscreen or shade. Prolonged direct exposure to the sun causes damage due to both UVA and UVB rays, with UVB leading to sunburn but both wavelengths ultimately causing skin damage over time. The molee of the skin also plays a role in determining how easily it will burn; people with fairer skin are more prone to sunburn than those with darker complexions due to their lower melanin production.
Sunblock is essential for anyone spending extended periods outdoors since it acts as a physical barrier that prevents UV radiation from reaching the skin’s surface cells. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays should be used for optimal protection. Sunscreens should also be applied at least 20 minutes prior to exposure so that the protective barrier can form within the pores of the skin and allow for maximum efficiency of this important protection measure.
Symptoms of sunburn
Sunburn is a result of overexposure to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It usually appears within a few hours of sun exposure and can last for days, sometimes even up to a week or more. The severity of your sunburn depends on the intensity, length and amount of direct exposure you had to the sun. Sunburns are accompanied by several signs and symptoms including:
- Redness and warmth: A red, inflamed rash will likely appear on the affected areas caused by dilated blood vessels that are trying to cool the skin down. The skin may also feel hot and tender to the touch.
- Blisters: Blistering may also occur when skin is burned too severely. The blisters may ooze fluids as they heal.
- Pain: When suffering from a serious burn, it might hurt even after touching lightly on the affected area or drawing clothing across it. Pain is generally worse at night due to increased sensitivity in air temperatures while sleeping and decreased aspirin levels in your body during this time period.
- Itchiness: Your skin may be extremely itchy following a serious burn. Resist any urge to scratch as this can cause further damage to your already damaged skin cells—especially with blistering present—leading lead to an increased risk for infection if broken open blisters are scratched off prematurely or too harshly.
- Swelling: Swelling referred to as edema can happen on severely burned patches of skin which is an inflammatory reaction accompanied by puffiness due early liquid accumulation in skins tissue caused by damaged capillaries beneath the surface dermis layers.
Sunburns can be extremely uncomfortable and can cause skin irritation, dryness and itching. Although you can use over-the-counter medications and lotions to soothe your skin, there are a few home remedies that can help ease the symptoms of sunburn.
From natural ingredients like aloe vera and honey, to herbs like chamomile and lavender, here are some of the best home remedies for sunburn relief:
Aloe Vera is one of the most popular natural remedies for healing sunburned skin. It is a time-tested remedy for many skin ailments, especially those caused by too much sun exposure. The natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Aloe Vera make it ideal for treating sunburns.
Aloe Vera can be used in different ways to soothe and cool sunburned skin. Applying aloe gel directly to the affected area is one of the best ways to minimize pain and reduce redness. Aloe gel also helps restore moisture, which is vital after sunburn because it breaks down the structure of skin cells.
For an even more refreshing treatment, you can create a cooling compress using aloe vera leaves and cucumber slices; just crush, mix together and apply directly to the affected area of your skin using a cloth or towel. If you don’t have fresh aloe leaves on hand, you can use store-bought aloe vera gel or lotion as an alternative.
Applying Aloe Vera topically twice daily will help reduce pain and ease redness quickly while allowing your skin to heal faster than if you didn’t use anything at all. In addition, drinking aloe vera juice may help support cell regeneration from the inside out and boost the activity of reparative enzymes that promote healing from within – ultimately leading to faster recovery from that painful sunburn!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has become a popular home remedy for skin problems due to its natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties. To use it to help soothe sunburned skin, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of cold water and apply the mixture to the sunburned area with a clean cotton cloth or towel.
The cold temperature of the water helps reduce swelling, while the acidity in the vinegar works to balance out pH levels on your skin and reduces stinging sensations.
Coconut oil has long been used to help reduce inflammation and heal damaged skin. It can be used as an effective treatment for sunburn because it contains natural antioxidants that may help reduce redness and discomfort while helping to restore moisture to your skin.
For best results, apply a thin layer of coconut oil directly onto the affected areas several times a day. You can also add some essential oils that have healing properties for additional nourishment. Remember to always use organic, unrefined coconut oil for any skin treatments, as it is free from any unwanted chemicals or additives.
Baking soda is commonly used around the house as a leavening agent and mild cleaner, but it can also be used as a home remedy for sunburn relief. Mix a cup of baking soda with some cool water in a bowl and apply to the affected area with a soft cloth or cotton ball.
You can also make an oatmeal bath for sunburns by adding two cups of baking soda to a lukewarm bath of water. Soak in this solution for at least 15 minutes to reduce sunburn inflammation, itchiness and pain. This remedy is particularly beneficial if you have sensitive skin or stress-induced skin flare-ups.
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to dealing with sunburns. Before you even step outside, make sure that you are prepped with all the necessary protection you need. This means wearing sunscreen, finding shade when you can, and wearing protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses. Additionally, it is important to understand how much sun exposure your skin can handle and to limit your time in the sun accordingly.
All of these steps can help you prevent a painful sunburn:
- Wear sunscreen.
- Find shade when you can.
- Wear protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses.
- Understand how much sun exposure your skin can handle.
- Limit your time in the sun accordingly.
Most importantly, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or more can be an effective way to protect your skin from sunburn. Sunscreens are designed to both absorb and reflect ultraviolet light which reduces the amount of UV rays that reach the skin.
For optimal protection, experts suggest reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours while in direct sun exposure and after swimming or sweating. In addition, wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can help shield you from dangerous UV radiation.
Avoid Sun Exposure
The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid too much sun exposure. To do this, you should limit the amount of time spent outdoors when UV rays are strongest, which is generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Make sure to wear protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats, when in the sun. It’s also important that you apply a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays—and don’t forget to reapply it frequently if you’re spending more time in the sun than usual.
Wear Protective Clothing
One of the best ways to prevent sunburn is to wear protective clothing. Protective clothing refers to anything that covers your skin and reduces the amount of UV radiation that reaches your body. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses are essential for protecting your skin from UV rays.
It’s also important to apply sunscreen even when you’re wearing protective clothing—especially if the fabric is thin or semi-transparent. Look for a maximum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and make sure to re-apply as instructed on the bottle. If you can’t find sunscreen with this rating, research products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for added protection from UV light.
Sunburns can be uncomfortable and unsightly, and many people may feel the need to seek medical or professional help when trying to remove them. Professional treatments are often the fastest and most effective way to get rid of sunburns. These treatments can include:
- Laser therapy
- Chemical peels
- Other topical creams
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular professional treatments for sunburns.
Corticosteroid creams are a type of topical medications that help reduce inflammation, relieve itching, and decrease redness caused by sunburns. They contain a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone cortisol, which helps regulate the body’s response to stress and other situations. Corticosteroid creams tend to be very effective in reducing symptoms associated with sunburn.
However, they should not be used as a first-line treatment since they can cause adverse reactions if not correctly used according to a doctor’s instructions. It is important to use only mild corticosteroids and apply sparingly twice a day for no more than 10 days. Applying too much can thin the skin and prolonged use may lead to skin thinning or changes in pigmentation.
Pain relievers are often the first line of defense when it comes to sunburn treatment. Over-the-counter topical creams and ointments containing analgesics can be used to temporarily alleviate pain and reduce redness. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are common types of oral medications used to treat sunburns. Be sure to always consult a doctor before taking any type of medication or supplement for sunburns.
Other treatments for relieving pain from sunburn include:
- Cool compresses on the areas that are affected.
- Aloe vera gel (this is especially helpful for reducing inflammation).
- Hydrocortisone creams and lotions.
- Cool baths with oatmeal or baking soda.
- Antihistamines (this is especially helpful for reducing itching).
- Taking acetaminophen or aspirin not derived from wheat in order to reduce swelling and inflammation associated with severe sunburns.
Antihistamines are a medication used to relieve allergy symptoms caused by the release of histamine in the body. Histamine is released when a person experiences an allergic reaction and can cause itching, redness, swelling and hives. Antihistamines work by blocking the action of histamine on cells in your body and can be used to treat various types of allergies including seasonal allergies (hay fever), food allergies and hives resulting from sunburns.
Common antihistamines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). These medications are available over-the-counter, but if symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor for further guidance.