Despite all the warnings about skin cancer, we never seem to learn, and at the merest hint of a few rays we're stripping off and baking ourselves like a Sunday roast.
With the hot weather set to continue, here are a few pointers on sunburn and its treatment. If you've just come out of the sun and think you may have overdone it, you can take aspirin or ibuprofen
What is Sunburn?
The sun produces two main types of light, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB), and they differ in the way they penetrate the skin. UVB is the one that will cause you to turn red. The UVB radiation has two main effects. In the short-term, it triggers a reaction in the skin that causes chemicals to be released that result in redness and inflammation. And in the long-term, it damages the DNA in the skin.
Why is Sunburn sometimes delayed?
You hardly ever see sunburn straight away. If you see redness on the skin immediately, you're probably seeing a burn that's caused by the intense heat of the sun, rather than the ultraviolet, in exactly the same way that standing by a roaring fire turns skin red. It's an indication that you may be on the way to getting sunburn, but the sunburn itself may not show for eight hours. experts aren't sure why, but the theory is it takes that amount of time for the genes that control the mechanism to trigger the release of the chemicals.
Can i take action to minimise damage?
Yes. If you've just come out of the sun and think you may have overdone it, you can take aspirin or ibuprofen, as these are drugs that block the formation of the chemicals that cause redness and swelling.
First line of attack to treat sunburn?
Obviously, you should get out of the sun straight away and stay out of it. If a baby or a child is sunburnt, or you've got blisters or a fever, you should seek medical advice from your GP. Otherwise, from a medical perspective, the most important thing you can do is intensively moisturise your skin using a product that won't irritate the skin further.
Which is better, a Hot shower or cold bath?
Some people swear by a hot shower for taking the sting out of sunburn, but part of the reason why your skin is hot is because you've got increased blood supply to the surface of the skin, and a hot shower won't change this. A cool bath or shower should help you feel more comfortable as it constricts the blood vessels.
What are the best products to treat Sunburns?
Calamine lotion will help to cool skin while, when it comes to moisturising, look for products containing ingredients like Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, which quickly delivers a lot of moisture to skin.
Will Antihistamine cream or Pills help?
No. An antihistamine won't work because the reaction you're seeing on the skin isn't a histamine reaction. It may look similar - red, swelling - but as the cause is not related, an antihistamine won't help.
When does sunburn peak?
Sunburn pain can be at its most intense around 12 hours after exposure, but may continue to develop for 24 hours. And the bad news is, once you've actually developed the symptoms of sunburn, painkillers won't work. For a painkiller like ibuprofen to work, it needs to reach the area that is inflamed. If you've damaged the skin's cells, you've damaged the delivery system, so it's doubtful that you'll get anything more than a placebo-effect relief from it. If the pain is so bad that you need to take painkillers, you should probably see a medical professional.
Can home remedie such as vinegar help?
Home remedies are based on cooling the skin down, or moisturising it in some way. The only time you might want to use vinegar is if you've got blisters - a capful of vinegar and cool water can help dry out blisters. Otherwise, using vinegar really isn't recommended as it's mildly acidic and will have a slight astringent effect, drying out skin that is already desperately in need of moisture.
Is prickly heat related to sunburn?
Prickly heat is a condition that affects 14 per cent of the population and is an abnormal immunological response to the UVA type of light. The best way to avoid it is to gradually work up to exposing your skin to the sun rather than suddenly blasting it with sunlight.
Can you stop peeling?
No. If the skin is going to peel, it's going to peel because it's been destroyed. Be very careful when you are peeling because the skin underneath will be very tender and will need to be kept well protected from the sun and well moisturised.
Are some more prone to sunburn than others?
People with fair skin or those who haven't had much sun exposure are more likely to burn quickly as they tend to have low levels of melanin, the component of skin that gives us natural protection against burning. Redheads are particularly susceptible as their skin contains a different type of melanin which is much less efficient.
Long term implications?
Sunburn can be repaired in a relatively short space of time. However, it is an indicator of invisible, long-term damage. If you have been sunburn, you have damaged the DNA in the skin, and it is this damage that it is thought goes on to create problems such as skin cancer.
Protect your skin this Summer with Molloys Lifestyle Pharmacy, we offer suncare for all the family!
Ask our skincare advisor's in-store today at all Molloys Lifestyle Pharmacy and Health Stores!
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Till next time,