All About Sunburns

Family at beach
If you live in FL, chances are you have experienced a sunburn. Not only are sunburns painful, but they also can lead to Melanoma, better known as skin cancer. Sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to more ultraviolet rays than it can take. Each person’s genetic skin type determines their sun tolerance. The fairer your skin, the less tolerable you are to the sun. Nevertheless, it is important to note that every skin type can burn and suffer the consequences of sun damage; and once your skin is burned by the UV rays, you can soothe the pain but the inflammation and redness will still have to run their course. 
If you are not familiar with the symptoms of a sunburn, here are the most important things to know:
  • Sunburn can occur within minutes of being exposed to UV rays, however takes about 6-12 hours to fully develop symptoms.
  • Redness, tenderness, and swelling occur within hours of exposure.
  • As the skin heals, peeling will occur within a week or so. 
  • If a burn is severe, it may blister before peeling.
The best way to deal with a sunburn is prevention. 
  • Did you know a simple T-Shirt has an SPF of about 5? Cover you skin with sun protective clothing when you know you will be outside for extended amounts of time, and especially during the peak hours of high UV rays: 11 am - 3 pm.
  • Apply SPF 30 sunscreen to all uncovered skin.
  • Reapply every 2 hours, especially after swimming or rubbing product off your skin. 
  • Seek shade. Consider bringing an umbrella, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect those more sensitive areas. 
  • Check the weather before you go out. Every weather app will tell you the intensity of the UV rays for that day. 
If your prevention efforts don't protect you from a sunburn, here is how to treat your burn: 
  • First things first, cool the skin with a water compress for 15 minutes, several times a day, to help relieve redness and heat. 
  • Apply a moisturizer, such as coconut oil or vaseline to hydrate the skin and allow it to heal. 
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to help reduce redness and inflammation, such as Advil.
  • Gently apply Aloe to sunburned skin: Real aloe is best, but an aloe vera gel from the drug store works too. Aloe is soothing, as well as healing. 
Lastly, many sunburns over time can lead to Melanoma. Make sure to regularly check yourself for signs of Melanoma. Here are the most common signs, which should be checked out by your doctor.
  • A sore that won’t heal.
  • New mole/freckle that doesn’t match the others.
  • Change to an existing mole/freckle. This could include growth, itching, or even disappearing. 
Your skin is the largest organ of the body, so keeping it healthy is super important. If you have questions about sunburns, how they occur, or how to treat them, feel free to give our office a call!


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