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Save Your Skin from Sunburn

Updated on November 30, 2015

Everyone wants to soak up as much sun as they can before summer is gone, but the end result, a sunburn, is dangerous.

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The Basic Facts

The sun produces both visible rays (which you see in the colors of the rainbow) and invisible ones, some of which are ultraviolet (UV). There are two types of UV rays: UVA rays trigger wrinkles and premature aging by penetrating the deeper dermal layer of the skin and damaging the collagen and elastic fibers, the support structures of the skin. UVB rays are the chief culprits in sunburns. They are absorbed by the epidermal layer and deplete part of the body’s natural cell-protection system, damaging cells (which causes a sunburn) and their DNA.

What To Look For

Why you may burn easily and what’s happening to your skin when you do:

  • Know your melanin levels. Fair skin has less of this protective pigment, so it needs more protection.
  • Check your medications and skin creams. Some drugs, like tetracycline, and skin creams, like Retin-A and those containing retinols, cause an increase in photosensitivity, which makes skin more vulnerable to burning.
  • Pain, itching and blistering are signs that the skin isn’t able to repair itself, causing cells to die and the skin to peel. Fever, chills or upset stomach signal that you are suffering from sunburn-related dehydration and should see a doctor.

Simple Solutions

Prevent, minimize and heal burned skin. Beauty Rx:

  • Try to stay inside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.

  • Slather your body with a sunblock of at least SPF 15 before going outside. And reapply often.

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  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen after excessive sun exposure.

Ocean Potion Burn Relief Ice Gel
Ocean Potion Burn Relief Ice Gel | Source
  • Calm burning or itching with a cool, wet compress or a cooling bath with baking soda. Also try products that contain aloe vera and/or hydrocortisone, like Jergens Soothing Aloe Lotion. Products with pain-numbing lidocaine also work; we like Hawaiian Tropic Cool Aloe I.C.E. burn-relief gel.

What Works

Even one sunburn is one too many. Sunscreen is the single most important thing you can do for your skin. No matter what you age and how much sun damage you’ve had, it’s never too late to start protecting yourself.

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