Understanding the Causes of Sunburn

Sunburn affects many thousands of Americans annually. It is basically caused by overexposure to ultraviolet rays in sunlight. However, there are different risk factors and conditions that contribute to sunburn and its results. Knowing more about sunburn and its causes will help you take better care of yourself, and avoid some dermatology issues and potentially life threatening conditions.

How It Works

Sunburn happens when excessive levels of ultraviolet or UV rays damage the skin. Two different kinds of UV rays, UVA rays and UB rays, represent health risks. UVB rays are generally more dangerous and contribute to higher risks for skin cancer.

In sunburn, the body is unable to produce enough of a chemical called melanin that protects the skin from ultraviolet rays. As a result, the skin burns, changing pigmentation and causing pain.

Situational Causes

There are many kinds of situational causes for sunburn. One is tanning beds, where customers without sufficient protection from UV rays can get serious burns. Individuals can also get extremely sunburned by falling asleep in the sun or simply failing to check conditions after every hour in the sun. Work related sunburns are another common type of sunburn situation.

People experience higher risk for sunburns in equatorial regions of the world. Another large causal factor is the person’s skin tone or “base.” Those who have not had a lot of prior exposure can have worse sunburns if they do not use care in remaining outside in the sun. People with darker complexions are at lower risk for sunburn than those with extremely pale skin.

Sunburn and Weather

It’s important to note that sunburn does not only happen in the summertime. A kind of sunburn called “winter burn” happens when people equate heat with the ultraviolet rays that cause skin damage. Sunburn can occur on colder days, and even on overcast days where the UV rays get reflected even when the sun is clouded over.

Good medical treatment is critical for helping to minimize the results of sunburn and avoid a higher risk for skin cancer. There are a lot of topical medications that individuals can use when they have a sunburn. These can help with the pain and diminish the damage to the skin, helping the body heal over time.

Getting a bad sunburn increases the risks of skin cancer later in life. The most common preventative treatment is the application of topical creams including rated sun protection called SPF. A higher SPF will provide better protection against the sun’s UV rays. Those who want to get the most out of these preventative solutions should apply them carefully, and reapply after several hours in the sun, as well as after water may have washed off some or all of the SPF substance.

Talk to your doctor about how best to prevent and treat sunburn, as well as what the particular risks are according to your skin tone and medical history.

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