Sunburn can be very dangerous...even deadly!....
One of the things I see so often are people who do not understand how easy it is to get sunburned. These are usually people who lack the experience of living in a climate that gets a high sun exposure such as Canadians, North and Eastern Europeans, and Americans outside of the South. They make the mistake of assuming too many things.
Some of the things I have heard are "I have tan skin, I won't get sunburned" or "I will not be in the sun longer than an hour or two". These statements are very ignorant and the person can end up with health complications because they didn't take simple precautions. In fact, almost half of adults have admitted to getting sunburned just in the past year.
Obviously, if you are exposed to too much sunlight your skin will burn. There is 3 wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light which are usually referred to as "UV rays" by surfers and beach hippies. They are UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC will never reach you but the other two will penetrate your skin and cause skin damage. Not only can you get a sunburn, but you can cause even more damage you will not be aware of, including skin aging and melanoma skin cancer.
Who can get sunburned?
This myth that only fair skin people are at risk for sunburn is quite annoying. Maybe they think this because where they live all their darker skin friends never complain about being sunburned. I assure you that if you visit the Caribbean or Florida it won't matter how dark your skin is, you will get sunburned just spending an hour on the beach with no protection.
However, it is true if you are of Norwegian or German descent, and have a very light skin, you are going to burn far faster than someone who is from Africa.
The other factor is how intense the sun is. If it is a dark and overcast day during winter you will not burn as fast or at all compared to if it was a clear sunny day mid-summer.
Lastly, the 3rd factor is how long you're exposed to the sun. If you lay out on the beach in Jamaica on a sunny day in July and you have light skin expect to get sunburned within an hour, for sure! If you are out there 5 minutes, you will probably be okay.
How to tell if you get sunburned?
You will know you are sunburned because your skin will turn red and be warm to the touch. You also will feel like you just got a mild burn. More severe cases you could have some blisters and swelling. Internally you may feel flu-like symptoms and have chills, nausea, headache, and be weak and dehydrated.
After the sunburn
The body will spend the next few days trying to shed away damaged cells by peeling away the skin. There are things you can do though immediately to lessen problems and help with the pain.
Spraying diluted vinegar on the burn will help alleviate some of the pain. You can also apply cold and wet towels to your burn and take a cool bath. One of the tricks I have used in the past, which works very well, is buying aloe and putting it in the fridge. After it has time to cool then apply it all over the burned skin and you will get nice relief almost immediately. A more sticky remedy that some people also do is applying honey to the skin.
You may have trouble with pain even after these at home remedies, and in this case, you should not be scared to take some ibuprofen to help. In addition, you should be slamming cool drinks because your body will run the risk of dehydration and it will help alleviate symptoms.
It may be difficult to do if you are on vacation, but do not get any more sun exposure until your sunburn shows the progress of going away. If you insist on going out in the sun wear protective clothing even if it means going swimming in a long-sleeved shirt and pants.
You are going to want to take a few days away from the gym or doing any sort of exercise, so your body can rest and repair the injury.
If your burn does not show progress after 2 days or you experience a high fever it may be time to seek medical help.
Ways to prevent sunburn
The best way to cure a sunburn is not getting it in the first place! There are extremely simple ways to do it.
The most simple solution is to avoid going out in the sun during the peak hours which is midday to early afternoon (12-4). That is when the sun is highest in the sky and your chance of being burned is very good.
Another solution is clothing. A hat is a big help, you can wear a bandana to cover up your neck, and regular clothing to cover up the rest of your body.
If you will be swimming and do not want to wear clothing, sunblock is going to be mandatory. I strongly recommend getting at least an SPF of 30-50+. Apply it and give it a chance to dry before going into the water, and make sure you are re-applying it every 1-2 hours.
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