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Sunburn - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Sunburn?

Skin is the largest organ is the body and it is exposed to the rays of the sun. The ultraviolet rays of the sun penetrate through the skin and helps in the formation melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the dark tan to the skin. The higher the melanin in the body, the darker the skin.

Exposure to the sun’s radiation also helps in the formation of vitamin D and warmth to the body.

When the body is exposed to too much ultraviolet rays, it causes a condition called sunburn. Burn due to ultraviolet rays is also caused when the body is exposed to other sources of ultraviolet rays like phototherapy lamps, arc lamps and tanning beds.

Causes and Consiquences :

Almost all people of all ages, race and sex can get sunburns. The condition is prevalent during all seasons even in winters when the radiation of the sun is low. Number of people suffering from sunburn is more towards the equator and at higher altitudes. Lighter skinned people are more at risk than dark skinned counterparts.

Mild first degree burns are caused due to sunburns. When the condition is serious there may be dehydration, second degree burns and infection. Sunburn can result from exposure to sun due to excessive outdoor activity. The ultraviolet rays pass through the clothes and reach the skin. They can even reach the skin when the clothes are wet.

Sunburn will increase symptoms of diseases like herpes, eczema, dermatitis, and erythematosus. Severe sunburn can also cause melanoma, skin cancer, premature ageing, wrinkling of skin, dehydration, exhaustion and heatstroke.

Sunburn will increase symptoms of diseases like herpes, eczema, dermatitis, and erythematosus. Severe sunburn can also cause melanoma, skin cancer, premature ageing, wrinkling of skin, dehydration, exhaustion and heatstroke.

More about :

The condition is not life threatening, however, it can cause a lot of pain. First aid is given to patients who suffer from mild sunburn. When the sunburn is severe, doctors will prescribe steroidal drugs that can relieve pain and inflammation. Hospitalization of patients with sunburn is necessary when the symptoms are severe. In mild cases, they are treated as outpatients and provided with cool baths, showers, anti-inflammatory medications and avoid further sun exposure.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention of sunburn is possible by not exposing oneself from the harmful sun radiations, use of sunscreens while venturing outside and wearing caps and sunglasses. All these preventive measures can help a person to avoid sunburns and also prevent further episodes of sunburns if one has suffered from one.

Sunburn is a condition that is not fatal and can be treated easily. Precautions enable to prevent sunburns and offer protection.

Treatable by medical professional Usually self diagnosable Lab test not required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Non communicable
Redness in skin Itchiness Inflammed skin Swelling

Popular Health Tips

Misleading Advertisements - Why Your Skin Care Product Does Not Work?

MD (AIIMS), Clinical Fellow,Skin Oncology(New England Medical Centre & Boston University,USA), Clinical Fellow.Photomedicine(Mass.Gen.Hospital,Harvard Medical School,USA), Clinical Fellow,Laser Surgery(Mass.Gen Hospital,Harvard Medical School,USA)
Dermatologist, Kolkata
Misleading Advertisements - Why Your Skin Care Product Does Not Work?

Nourishing shampoos and soaps, Skin brightening face washes, Oils for Stronger hair, Fairness creams, Split ends repairing products, Chemical free Natural products. You are bombarded with these kinds of wonderful cosmetic and medical claims on a daily basis and are tempted to try out these products. After all, they are promoted by your favourite celebrities!

Have you sometimes wondered why these products do not work and whether they are backed by any rigorous scientific evidence? Here are just a few examples of how many advertisements are simply outright lies while others are extremely misleading.

  1. Nourishing washes, medicated soaps: From a simple chemistry perspective, when you apply a good wash or soap onto your skin, you expect it to latch on to all the accumulated dirt, sweat and oil on your skin. And with the act of rinsing, all these should be washed off with the rinsing water. Now if your wash or soap is effective enough to wash of oils and dirt, would it not wash off any additional product that is added within it? So all that added 'nourishment and 'antibacterial effect' is washed down the drain! Also, do you expect to obtain nourishment through your gut or through your skin? So, from a scientific perspective, it is better to eat healthily and maintain a healthy lifestyle for healthy skin and to use your washes just for cleansing. Any ordinary wash or soap of your choice is ok but use mild washes if you tend to have dry skin but never use medicated washes.
  2. Stronger hair and split ends: Have you ever wondered why cutting your hair never caused you any pain or bleeding? This is because the hair shafts that you see on top of your skin is composed of a completely dead protein called keratin and contains no nerve endings or blood vessels. These hair shafts are produced and pushed up daily by living and very active hair roots below the skin. Now, no matter which product you use, you certainly cannot repair or strengthen tissue which is already dead. But yes, you can certainly use oils and other products to condition your dead hair shafts.
  3. Shampoos and oils for hair-fall: Hair-Fall, similar to fever, is just a symptom and the cause of it can vary from person to person. Your hair roots are very actively producing new keratin and lengthening the hair shafts everyday. Such intense activity of the hair roots can easily be affected by any disturbance or disease within the body, causing the hair roots to shut down and cause hair fall. Simply applying anything on top of the scalp without knowing the primary cause of hair fall would be like simply sponging your body for fever without investigating the primary cause of fever. A qualified dermatologist would be best placed to investigate and resolve your hair fall problem.
  4. Fairness creams: Your skin colour is mostly determined by your genes and to some extent by the environment that you live in. Your dermatologist could modify your skin colour a wee bit but you also need a proper environment and precautions to maintain this. Beware of fairness creams which often contain harmful or irritating ingredients. Even some medicated creams contain steroids, which if misused, can permanently damage your skin. Always obtain a valid prescription before purchasing any pharmaceutical creams.
  5. Sunscreens with SPF which make you several tones fairer: Sunscreens, like umbrellas, simply protect you against sunburns and skin cancers and do not cause any lightening of your natural skin colour. Sunscreens are important to prevent skin cancers in light-skinned races since their skin, unlike pigmented Indian skin, has very little of the protective pigment called melanin. Sunscreens are medically recommended to prevent skin cancers. Do you really use sunscreens for this reason? SPF or sun protection factor measures the ability of sunscreens to protect from UVB rays causing sunburns and skin cancers. If you are using sunscreens for other non-recommended reasons like preventing a suntan, then just the SPF number is kind of irrelevant because there are other rays besides UVB which cause skin tanning.
  6. Anti Wrinkle and Anti Scar Creams: There are medical and surgical ways to reduce wrinkles and to alter scars. Since this involves changing the human body's physiology and anatomy it comes under the realm of medical treatment. If creams or lotions were able to achieve these same effects, they cannot be labelled as cosmetics but as drugs. And can only be sold in pharmacies with a valid prescription. There are misleading words and phrases like, 'reduce the appearance of wrinkles', 'proven formula', 'helps in', 'boosts collagen production', which companies often use to fool you into believing that there is some valid scientific work behind their claims.
  7. Natural, Chemical free products: You would probably be left scratching your head if any intelligent chemistry student were to ask you to name something that is not a chemical! This claim is a clever gimmick by companies to mislead you into believing that their products are safer. Any plant, leaf of fruit actually contains hundreds or thousands of mostly unknown chemicals. It is actually much easier to perform research on just one known chemical and prove that it is safe, compared to performing research on any single so-called 'natural' product, simply because it contains hundreds or thousands of unknown chemicals.
4004 people found this helpful

Some Simple Tips For Revitalizing Sun-Damaged Skin

Diploma In Venerology & Dermatology (DVD)
Dermatologist, Ghaziabad
Some Simple Tips For Revitalizing Sun-Damaged Skin

If you love sunbathing or have a lot of sun exposure without proper precautions, it can severely damage the skin. No matter how enjoyable it is to sit in the sun during the winter months, overexposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause some irreparable damage to the skin. It can also result in the appearance of premature wrinkles, sunburn and freckles. Sun damaged skin also causes pigmentation disorders in the form of age spots or dark patches and also makes the skin look rough and dry. Fortunately, treatment options are available that improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin. Read the article for some simple tips to revitalize your sun damaged skin:

  1. Apply lotions and serums: The lotions and serums that contain glycerin help to treat the dark sunspots and skin dryness. The glycerin rehydrates the skin by adding the moisture to the deep layers of the skin making it look smooth, healthy and radiant.
  2. Exfoliate: Exfoliation is another way to treat the dry and dead skin that is caused by overexposure of the sun or use of self-tanning products. Exfoliation can be done simply with a mild cleanser and remember to moisturize your skin after exfoliating that helps to restore the moisture. Exfoliating the skin help to remove the dead skin cells, dirt and debris and leave the skin feeling smooth and revitalized.
  3. Apply bleaching creams: Bleaching creams can also be applied that treat the skin pigmentation (dark patches and age spots) caused by sun exposure. Make sure to buy a reliable bleaching cream or you can consult the dermatologist for further guidance.
  4. Use sunscreen: Applying sunscreen before a long-term sun exposure greatly helps in preventing the sun damage and makes the skin look radiant. Whenever you need to go out in the sun, apply sunscreen even for a short period of time and make sure to apply it on all the areas of the body that will be exposed to the sun. Wear sunscreen that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Regular use of sunscreen not only helps to prevent the sun damage but also protects the already sun damaged skin from getting worse.

If you notice the result of sun damage on your skin, don’t give up because it’s too late to reverse the damages. Remember, it’s never too late to protect your skin and reverse the sun damage. 

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2613 people found this helpful

UV Rays - Know How They Harm Your Skin!

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy
Dermatologist, Hyderabad
UV Rays - Know How They Harm Your Skin!

In limited quantities, ultraviolet rays are not only beneficial but also necessary for maintaining proper health. The Vitamin D from the sun’s rays can help cure several diseases such as eczema, jaundice and psoriasis. If adequate amounts of sun rays are not received by the body, bone growth gets hampered that can result in osteoporosis and other bone weakness issues. However, if it is received in abundance, its’ effects can be profusely detrimental to the immune system, eyes and the skin.

Since skin tanning and sun-bathing have become increasingly popular among the mass, it is necessary for people to be more aware of the potential risks of sun exposure.

  1. "Erythema" or sunburn is a very common condition among fair skinned people, which occurs when the skin absorbs energy from the sun’s rays. The system detects it as a harmful, intrusive force and thereby signals for extra blood to reach the affected area and restore the skin. It results in pain, swelling, blistering, itching and peeling of the skin. Not only is it a painful condition, it can also be a precursor to even more harmful diseases.
  2. Skin cancer cases are steadily on the rise in the world, with 5 new such cases being reported every week. Due to prolonged exposure to harsh UV rays, the number of damaged cells in the body increases to such an extent that the system cannot mend it anymore. When not controlled, these damaged cells multiply, grow or divide uncontrollably. These cells can also accumulate and form a tumor.
  3. Repeated and prolonged exposure to sun rays can also cause premature aging and wrinkling due to the degenerative damages it does to the skin’s epidermis.
  4. If one is vulnerable to sunburn, it is recommended for them to carry sunscreen at all times. The UV rays are blocked by the deflecting properties of sunscreens, thereby protecting the skin to a large degree.
  5. It is recommended for patients to carry umbrellas, or protective clothing to cover themselves up if they are vulnerable to harsh sun’s rays in the morning.
  6. Although sun exposure can cause several problems to our skin, with proper precautions, one can be assured of safety. Sun exposure can be properly managed if one remembers to make use of these simple tips daily.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2576 people found this helpful

Tips To Healthy And Revitalized Skin

MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, MBBS
Dermatologist, Gurgaon
Tips To Healthy And Revitalized Skin

All of us desire to possess a healthy and glowing skin but factors like unhealthy lifestyle practices, inadequate sleep, extreme stress, anxiety and poor dietary choices tend to damage the health of your skin, giving it a dull and tired appearance.

The following are some tips that will enable you to revitalize your skin:

  1. Quit smoking and alcohol intake: Smoking reduces blood circulation to the interior of your skin layers, which makes your skin look dull and tired. Alcohol tends to reduce blood circulation, nutrients and quantity of oxygen supply to your skin. Hence, it is essential to limit the usage of both alcohol and tobacco.
  2. Drink lots water:  Water is essential for the smooth functioning of your system. It is extremely important to hydrate your cells, to enable effective elimination of toxins from your system. An adequately hydrated body will add a healthy glow to your skin as well.
  3. Eat a balanced diet: A diet that is rich in carbohydrates and fats tend to cause more wrinkles. Green leafy vegetables and fresh seasonal fruits have antioxidants and essential vitamins, while food like fish, tofu, white meat, beans, lentils are rich in protein, all of which tend to make your skin appear younger. A balanced diet that incorporates essential nutrients is good for your skin cells and its rejuvenation. Eat mixed nuts to increase the elasticity of your skin; most nuts contain fatty acids that enable your skin to repair and rejuvenate itself.
  4. Use sunscreen:  Almost ninety percent of the wrinkles occur due to extreme sun exposure. It is advisable to use effective sunscreen and sun protection techniques to prevent sun damage. It not only protects your skin from harmful UV rays of the sun but also protects it from sun burn and sun tans.
  5. Remove your make up prior to sleep: When you go to bed without removing your make-up, the accumulated dirt and sweat tend to clog your skin pores. It is extremely necessary to remove your make up prior to sleep to lessen the risk of pimple and formation of rash on skin. 
  6. Go to bed early: Inadequate sleep tends to lower your blood circulation, which is responsible for making you look washed out and pale. Proper sleep not only gives your body the required rest but also enables your skin to rejuvenate itself through involuntary renewal process. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dermatologist.
2654 people found this helpful

Prolonged Sun Exposure - How It Can Damage Your Skin?

MBBS, M.Med.Sci Cosmetology, Ph.D Cosmetology(prel)
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Chennai
Prolonged Sun Exposure - How It Can Damage Your Skin?

A little bit of sun is always good for you and you do need sunlight for your body to process vitamin D, which is necessary for bone health. At the same time, the ultraviolet rays from the sun can be detrimental for your health. While being in the sun is not a bad thing, how long you stay in the sun and how well you are protecting yourself count. Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure harms your skin and can decrease the immunity function of the skin.

Some effects of sun exposure include:

  1. Development of cancerous and non-cancerous skin lesions
  2. Benign tumours
  3. Coarse and fine wrinkles
  4. Freckles
  5. Mottled pigmentation (Skin discoloration in certain areas)
  6. Sallowness (The colour of the skin turns yellow)
  7. Telangiectasia (Expansion of blood vessels under your skin)
  8. Elastosis (Destruction of the collagen and elastic tissue)

The most harmful effect of sun exposure is definitely skin cancer. It is the uncontrolled development of anomalous skin cells is skin cancer. This accelerated development leads to formation of tumours, which are either malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Skin cancer is mainly of 3 types: basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Among these, squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma are less critical; while melanoma is very serious. When melanoma is left untreated, it can affect the other organs and get difficult to treat. UV rays are the major causes of skin cancer. Sun exposure over the years leads to squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, while severe sun damage episodes before the age of 18 cause melanoma.

Here are some tips to prevent sun damage:

  1. Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out, even if it is cloudy. A sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more, and zinc oxide is advisable if you want optimum sun protection. Also, you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.
  2. Select cosmetic products, contact lenses and clothing that offer protection from UV rays.
  3. Choose sunglasses that offer total protection from UV rays. Also, wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your neck and face.
  4. Avoid direct exposure during harsh hours like between 10.00 and 3.00PM. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon.
3493 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

Hi, Because of travelling in sunny days my skin get focused to sun and now it turned reddish and feeling burning sensation and looking like black so how to get rid of this and will I get restore with my white mess.Thank You

Dermatologist, Chennai
You are suffering from Photo dermatitis. Medicine available for good improvement. As the treatment varies depending on the severity. Send photos of the affected area, by direct online consultation for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
2 people found this helpful

I have a skin tone is tanned while my body is full white. I hv tried everything from ayurved to everything bt my face skin tone is not getting nrml.

Dermatologist, Chennai
Undergo glutathione therapy. Otherwise, few creams also available. Contact me by direct online consultation for treatment.
1 person found this helpful

Table of Content

What is Sunburn?

Causes and Consiquences :

More about :

Prevention and Treatment

Play video
Skin Care Tips
Hello, I am Shruti Kohli. I am a consultant Dermatologist in cosmetologist in Sarvodaya Hospital, Sec-8, Faridabad. Also, I have a clinic in Sec- 15, Faridabad by the name of Crimson Clinic. I have been practising from last 12 years.

Today, I am going to talk about the "summer skin care tips".

Summers brings a lot of skin problems, such as Fungal infections, sunburn, excessive sweating and rashes. Here are few tips for the smooth sailing summer,

Use sunscreen before stepping out in the sun, that is the most important preventive step anyone can take in the summer season. The sun screen should be minimum SPF of 15 and should protect against both UVA and UVB.
Apply the sunscreen 15 minutes prior to go to the sun. And it can be applied after every 3-4 hours.
The sun also has a bad effect on the lips. In order to protect them, you can moisturize them by applying lip balm with SPF of 15, as and when required.
For the face cleaning, I would recommend a gentle exfoliating face wash containing glycolic acid, which will help to remove a dead skin as well as the harmful effect of sweat and pollutants from your skin.
After cleansing of the skin, it is important to use light water base moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
Avoid heavy creams and oils as the skin breakouts.
If you are exposed to the sun for long period, then aloe vera gel is recommended, as it is a soothing and cooling agent. also it has antioxidant properties. It can also prevent damaging of the skin of free radicles.
Aloe vera can also be used a cooling mask occasionally.
I would recommend washing off yourself twice daily with cold water, in order to remove the pollutants.
Also, use a white broad hat to protect your skin, especially the skin of your face. Or you can use an umbrella while being exposed to the sun.
Eat plenty of watermelon and muskmelon daily.
There are certain foods which give inherent protection against the sun. These include tomatoes, berries, citrus fruits, nuts which contain Vitamin C.
And the last is, hydrate yourself regularly. drink atleast 12-15 glass of water daily for a glowing, youthful and healthy skin. Coconut water also works well and is recommended in your daily routine.
Summer will be fun if you follow the simple tips given by me. You can contact me for any skin related problem, through Lybrate or you can also take a direct appointment in my clinic which is in Sec-15 A, by the name of Crimson clinic.

Thank you.

Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice