Have you ever experienced sunburn? I’m guessing that almost all of us have!
Yes, we know it’s wrong and we kick ourselves when we are wincing with pain as we try to dress. But what is happening to our skin when we burn?
What is a sunburn?
A sunburn is the skin’s response to extreme ultraviolet (UV) exposure. In as little as 10 minutes of intense UV exposure, the skin sets into motion a system of defence.
The first indication of damage is redness. This is the body’s inflammatory response in situations requiring repair and is a result of dilating blood vessels.
The skin will then start to lose moisture, which will be apparent with a feeling of tightness.
Slowly, skin cells will start to thicken and melanin pigment will be produced (tanning) this is the bodies attempt to stop the UV rays from penetrating to the deeper layers and damaging the DNA of the cells.
When the skin is exposed to high levels of sunlight this may result in hypo or hyperpigmentation, which appears as irregular light and/or dark patches.
Why do I peel ?
Peeling after a sunburn is your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged cells that are at risk of “losing control” and becoming cancerous. Due to this danger, all damaged cells are instructed to self-destruct. This mass destruction of cells results in whole layers of damaged skin peeling off, to be replaced by other cells underneath those layers.
I Have A Sunburn, What Should I Do Now?
First of all, get out of the sun immediately.
Drink plenty of water as you may be dehydrated.
If skin is severely blistered, seek help from a medical practitioner.
Take a cool bath (no products added) and then blot skin dry. Avoid greasy creams, which prevent the skin from cooling and may make the situation worse.
Apply generously a soothing after-sun gel to red areas and then stay out of the sun and the heat. Look for ingredients such as Clove, Licorice, Lavender, Cucumber and Yucca to reduce irritation, pain and redness.
The body is excellent at coping with minimal amounts of damage, but if exposure is greater than the body’s ability to repair then more serious consequences may result. Irreparable damage may have occurred in the form of premature aging or skin cancer that may only reveal itself later. So think twice next time you decide “just another ten minutes,”