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 of 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.
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.
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 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.