Sunburn is used to describe red-colored, swollen and painful skin. This is caused by overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun. Sunburn can range from mild to severe and the extent tends to vary depending on the type of skin and the length of exposure to the sun. Always remember that sunburn is considered as a serious risk factor for skin cancer as well as sun damage.
Due to the differences in the strength of UV radiation that passes through the sky, the risk for sunburn rises with closeness to the tropical latitudes. Always remember that the higher the latitude, the lower the intensity of the UV rays. Take note that the amount of UV radiation largely depends on the angle of the sun. This is determined by the height ratio of a particular object to the size of its shadow. The highest risk is at noontime when the shadows are at their minimum and the radiation of the sun passes directly through the atmosphere. Regardless of the latitude, an equal shadow length indicates an equal amount of UV radiation exposed to.
Risk for skin cancer
Skin cancer is considered as the most common form of cancer. Always remember that getting repeated sunburn will increase the risk for skin cancer and this is why it is important to protect your skin. There are certain measures in order to prevent sunburn.
- Always use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher as well as providing both UVA and UVB protection. It is important to reapply every two hours when under the sun and more often it the individual sweats a lot or getting in and out of the water.
- Select a hat that is made out of tightly woven fabric that provides better protection than those made out of mesh or straw. Just make sure that it has a wide brim that goes all the way around the hat.
- Clothing that are tightly woven in darker colors can provide the best protection from the sun.
- Sunglasses are a must since the rays of the sun can hurt the eyes as well. It is important to use sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection to prevent cataracts later on in life.
Obviously, looking for a shaded area can provide protection from sunburn but it is still important to protect the skin even when under the shade. Try to limit the time spent under the sun, especially between 10 AM – 2 PM when the rays of the sun are very intense.
First aid for sunburn
While sunburn can later on life lead to cancer, it can cause discomfort. There are certain basic first aid measures that you can perform in order to relieve the pain.
You can provide over-the-counter medications for pain and inflammation such as ibuprofen. Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream at least three times in a day to help minimize the pain and swelling. Take note that this can also help if the sunburn later on becomes itchy.
In case the blisters break, cut off the dead skin using scissors and apply an antibiotic ointment. Of course, it is important not to pop open the blisters because once they are open, the risk for infection increases.
The individual should also take cool baths or apply a cool compress several times in a day. You can even add 2 ounces of baking soda to a tub of cool water for relief. Lastly, do not apply butter, oil or petroleum jelly on the affected areas.