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Sunburn & Sun Damage; How To Avoid and How to Treat

Updated on October 2, 2012

Sunburn and Skin Damage

Once considered a good shock to the system is regarded today as a serious injury that could lead to long term damage in the future.

The sun and its ultraviolet rays have the greatest impact on how our skin ages.Approximately 80% of our aging is caused by sun rays. As we age, collagen and elastin fibers of the skin naturally weaken. When skin is exposed to the sun, the destruction of collagen and elastin occur at a much faster rate, accelerating the entire aging process. Sun rays reach the skin in two different forms, UVA and UVB. Each of the rays affect skin in a different and negative way.

UVA - (aging rays) Contribute to 90 % of the sun's ultraviolet rays, and are long, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays, causing cells to die. They also weaken the skin's collagen and elastin, resulting in wrinkling of the skin and sagging of the over all tissue. Both UVA and UVB rays alter DNA and cause skin cancer.

UVA rays can also penetrate glass. Sitting indoors by a window is cause for sunscreen.

UVB - cause the skin to burn. Melanin helps protect the skin from the sun's UV rays, but melanin can be altered or destroyed by too much UV. light . UV rays can also damage the eyes.

On the plus side- UVB rays contribute to the body's synthesis of vitamin D.

Avoiding Sun Damage & Burning

All sun damage is dangerous. The best thing to do is avoid as much of it as possible.

  • First line of defense is a sunscreen. Look for something containing Zinc Oxide. The higher the percentage of zinc, the better. It is not a common active ingredient because it is quite dense. People do not like to wear thick creams, but, it is your best best in avoiding sun damage.
  • Avoid exposure during peak hours 10 AM - 3 PM
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim
  • Avoid tanning beds. If you must tan, use the bottled or spray kind.


If you have a sunburn you may experience some relief by applying cool cloths to the sunburned area, and taking cool baths and showers. Also, applying aloe vera can take the sting out.

  • Do not try to pop blisters
  • Leave blisters uncovered to allow healing.
  • Ibuprofen such as Advil or Motrin can help alleviate discomfort.


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    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      Thank you teaches. Very smart lady:)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is great advice for preventing burns and possible cancer related skin damage. I always use good sun protection when venturing out into the sun for an event or to the beach. Too many people I know have gotten severely burned from over exposure to the sun. Great post.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OOOOOO OUCH! Sunburn! Too much sun exposure over long periods of time has got to be No. 1 enemy to the skin.....and sadly, I see that most people either don't believe this or just don't care.

      I have a close friend of over 40 years...that was always a sun goddess.....Even that many years ago, somehow I knew this was NOT good, and would casually mention this to her.

      She's had a couple of malignant spots removed.....not to mention that she and I are the same age.....and I'm sorry to say, she has not "aged" well at all, skin-wise.

      People, please take heed! Good hub, Skarlet. UP++