Too much sun can lead to a nasty sunburn, the painful reddening of the skin after exposure to the sun’s rays or ultraviolet light. The pain and redness of sunburn is temporary; however, skin damage is permanent. Damage can include premature aging of the skin and long-term health effects, such as skin cancer.
Sunburn causes Sunburn occurs when the body is exposed to too much ultraviolet light from the sun or sun lamps, which accelerate the production of melanin, the dark pigment in the skin. People with fair skin are more likely to burn than dark-skinned individuals. Certain medications, such as antibiotics can make your skin more prone to burning.
Sunburn symptoms The effects of a sunburn may not appear for hours and may include warm, red skin that is tender to the touch; skin may peel later. A more severe reaction, sometimes called sun poisoning, can include fever, chills, extreme thirst, nausea or painful blisters and typically requires medical attention.
Sunburn diagnosis/tests You can probably treat your burn at home but if you have symptoms of sun poisoning, call your doctor who may tell you to go to the emergency department of your local hospital. The doctor there may order lab tests to help determine how severe your burn is.
Sunburn treatment Placing cold clothes on the skin, taking a cold shower, drinking extra fluids and using over-the-counter pain relievers will help ease the pain and discomfort of a sunburn. If you’ve sought medical treatment, your doctor may prescribe oral steroid therapy or steroid creams and stronger pain relievers.
Sunburn prevention Avoid a painful burn by being smart about your time in the sun.
• Spend time in shaded spots when you’re outdoors and avoid the mid-day sun between 11a.m. and 4p.m.
• Cover up with long-sleeved clothing and a hat with a broad-rim if you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period.
• Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher with both UVA and UBV protection, applied liberally 15 to 30 minutes before being in the sun and after swimming and activity.
• Never use indoor tanning lamps.
• Take extra precautions if you’re using medications, such as certain topical acne treatments, that make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
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