Sunburn is an inflammation
of the skin due to over-exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Most of the sunlight's
damage to the skin is caused by the ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays, which have long
been known to hurt the skin. UV-B rays penetrate through to the lower layers
of the skin, damaging skin cells.
a dark pigment in the upper layers of the skin, can protect the skin from some
of the effects of UV rays, different people have different amounts of melanin
in their skin. This explains why some people get burned easier than others.
exactly are UV rays?
UV rays are a type
of radiation energy, which are given out by the sun and sun beds/tanning lamps.
There are three
types of UV rays; A, B, and C. Only UV-A and UV-B rays can reach the earth.
UV-B rays have long been known to damage skin. However in recent years it has
been suggested that UV-A rays may be dangerous to the skin as well.
kind of damage can sunburn cause?
Other than the
immediate pain and discomfort, sunburn can also cause long-term damage. It can
increase a person's chance of developing skin cancer.
to the sun can also cause your skin to age prematurely, giving it a leathery
I get sunburn from a sun bed?
Yes. Sun beds and
tanning lamps produce artificial UV-A and UV-B rays. These can have the same
effect on the skin as the sun does.
are the symptoms of sunburn?
Symptoms of sunburn
usually become obvious within a few hours of exposure to the sun. The skin turns
red and can be very warm to the touch. It can also be tender and painful. Sometimes
Over the next few
days, the skin may then tan or peel. Peeling skin will reveal the red underlayer
of the skin.
In severe cases
of sunburn, symptoms can include headaches, fever, chills, nausea, and even
shock. Severe cases of sunburn should always be medically treated.
am I most at risk from sunburn?
UV rays are most
intense from late in the morning through to the afternoon. Therefore be especially
careful during the hours of 10am and 3pm.
This doesn't just
apply to the summer. While UV rays are not as intense at other times of the
year, they can still do damage to the skin.
should I do if I get sunburned?
If you, or somebody
you know is severely burned, always get medical attention.
If the burn is
mild, the person should drink plenty of water. To ease the pain, placing damp
cloths on the burns may give some temporary relief. Similarly soaking in a bath
of tepid water may help. Do not use soap as this may irritate the burn. Afterwards,
do not rub the skin dry, gently pat it dry instead.
lotion. Do not apply any other kinds of lotions or creams unless they have been
specifically cleared by a doctor. Some of them may contain ingredients which
could further irritate the skin.
If blisters develop,
watch for infection. Any infection should be treated by a doctor.
can I prevent sunburn?
Whenever the sun
shines in Ireland, many people seem to throw caution to the wind, going out
into direct sunlight with absolutely no protection. Even with all the warnings
about skin cancer, some people continually put themselves at risk.
Use sun cream to
protect your skin. Ensure that you use the correct factor. There is no point
in using a low factor if you are pale-skinned and susceptible to burning. Be
sensible, especially on a sun holiday where you may be experiencing temperatures
much higher than those normally associated with Ireland.
Start with a high
factor or sun block, gradually lowering the factor as you start to tan. Do not
rush it. A tan which develops over a period of time lasts longer then a tan
which develops after being burned.
If you are sensitive
to the sun, for example if you are very pale-skinned, use sun block.
Remember the scalp
can burn as well, so wear a hat or cap.
can I prevent sunburn in children?
- Children's skin
is especially delicate. Always use sun block on children's skin. Reapply after
swimming. If necessary, get your child to wear a t-shirt while swimming, as
this will protect their shoulders, chest, and back.
- Dress them in
cool and loose clothing. Try to keep them out of direct sunlight, especially
during the late morning and early afternoon when the risk of sunburn is highest.
Keep them in the shade if possible.
a person get burned even when it is cloudy?
Yes. Clouds don't
stop UV rays from reaching the earth.
a person get burned while they are swimming?
Yes. UV rays actually
bounce off reflective surfaces, such as water and snow. Therefore while you
are swimming, UV rays are hitting you from above and below, so if you are not
adequately protected you will burn. (This also explains why you often see skiers
wearing sun block on their nose.)
is most susceptible to sunburn?
People with fair
or pale skin are most susceptible to sunburn, especially if they have red hair.
Sometimes people with light hair and freckles can be susceptible too.
Some people never
tan. If you don't tan, always wear sun block when you are in the sun to protect
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