Sunburn or solar dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. Typical signs are reddened skin, itching and blisters. Sunburn causes lasting damage to the skin and makes it age faster and forms more wrinkles. Severe sunburn can also lead to skin cancer in the long term.
What is sunburn?
Sunburn is also referred to in medicine as solar dermatitis or light eruption. Sunburn occurs when the skin is burned by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. For kuru explanations, please visit aviationopedia.com.
Sunburn can be divided into first and second degree burns. Sunburn causes lasting and irreversible damage to the skin and leads to inflammation and cell damage, which can potentially lead to skin cancer .
The causes of sunburn are well known. Too long and too strong exposure to the sun or sun exposure on the skin can cause sunburn. The ultraviolet rays that emanate from the sun are particularly responsible.
Although the skin has protective mechanisms of its own and can repair inflamed skin on its own, it is not enough to completely protect the skin from the sun if UV radiation is too strong. The pigments of the skin play a special role in this. The more pigments a person has, the higher their natural protection from the sun’s rays. Therefore, fair-skinned people are particularly at risk of getting sunburned, whereas Africans can usually have more sun exposure without getting sunburned.
In summary, the following causes of sunburn can be found:
- Too long and intense unprotected sunbathing
- Insufficient protection of the skin by self-protection (pigments), clothing or sunscreen (sun protection factor)
- Increased solar radiation from water and snow (e.g. when sailing or skiing)
- Indirect solar radiation in the shade due to reflection (e.g. under a parasol on the beach)
- Some medications, such as antibiotics and essential oils, can increase photosensitivity
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The first signs of sunburn are often overlooked or not even considered possible because it was not expected. An unusually long stay in nature in the sunshine on a hike or a bike tour is enough. Suddenly it is noticed that the skin is red and tense, although one has not really sunbathed.
It’s enough to stick your arm out in the car with the window open, and your skin suddenly feels tense. Depending on the skin type, the reaction is correspondingly violent. If the reddening of the skin is overlooked as the first sign of sunbathing, skin burns can occur, the skin swells and becomes hot. Usually, and depending on the condition of the skin, the first signs can be seen after about four to six hours.
The symptoms are strongest after about 12 to 24 hours. Then the pain begins, which is very unpleasant with a sunburn. Touching burned skin is very painful. As the sunburn progresses, the skin blisters and also hurts without being touched.
When the skin then peels off and the burned areas start to itch, the healing process begins. If large areas of skin are burned, nausea, vomiting and fever can occur. Headaches and circulatory problems accompany extensive sunburn.
The course of sunburn develops from increased exposure to the sun. However, it is only later, about 6 to 8 hours, that the typical symptoms can be seen and felt. The peak of the sunburn is reached after about 24 hours. The duration of a full recovery depends on the degree of the burn. However, sunburn usually lasts up to two weeks.
Typical complaints and symptoms or complications are above all a very reddened skin that is painful to pressure and touch. Severe sunburn, i.e. second-degree burns, causes blisters or blisters that can be filled with sweat or body fluid. This form of sunburn should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. It is not uncommon for depigmented scars to remain permanently.
Long-term risks and complications of sunburn are skin tumors and skin cancer. However, a melanoma or basal cell carcinoma usually only develops after years. In addition, sunburn, as well as any form of strong sunlight, accelerates the aging of the skin. People who spend a lot of time in the sun or using the solarium develop old-looking, leathery skin with wrinkles.
Sunburn usually heals within a few days without complications. The pain on the skin can lead to sleep disorders and restricted mobility of the patient. Physical contact and wearing clothes are associated with pain and lead to a short-term decrease in quality of life. As the pain subsides, so do the limitations.
Sunburn can be accompanied by fever, chills, headache or blurred vision. In severe cases, sunburn results in heat stroke, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Additional irritation of the skin, such as scratching or blistering, can result in wounds and scars. Severe sunburn can cause skin burns or swelling.
In the long term, sunburn increases the risk of skin tumors and skin cancer with melanoma or basal cell carcinoma. In particular, repeated sunburns before the age of 20 increase the risk of long-term effects. The effect is cumulative. Skin diseases and premature skin aging also occur as a result of sunburn. Skin aging manifests itself, for example, in leathery skin, wrinkles or spots. In the case of permanent damage, chronic hypersensitivity of the skin can also occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
In most cases, a doctor is not required for sunburn. In the case of minor burns, the skin should be treated with cold water, cooling compresses or care products. Showering under cool running water is particularly helpful in relieving discomfort. The application of special creams and the avoidance of further sun exposure are advised to allow improvement. If the symptoms are alleviated within a few hours, self-help measures are usually sufficient. The sunburn gradually subsides within a few days, until a short time later the symptoms are free.
If the consequences of the burns from direct sunlight continue to increase, if severe pain occurs or if the person concerned is unable to move or take a resting position without discomfort, a doctor should be consulted.
Children who are constantly screaming, crying, or exhibiting behavioral problems need to be seen by a doctor. If the skin of an infant or child is very red, help is needed. The burns must be examined in order to assess the extent of the sunburn. Swelling, blistering of the skin, or irregular touch should be evaluated by a doctor if it causes severe interference with daily activities.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment of sunburn, unless prevented, should be done as soon as possible to minimize long-term damage. However, it should be noted here that every sunburn is “scored” in the “memory” of the skin. Some consequences, such as skin cancer, only become apparent years later.
Therapy for sunburn should depend on the degree of the burn. First of all, you should of course avoid any further exposure to the sun and put on clothing and a hat. Shady places should also be sought. Moist and cool compresses, as well as moisturizing lotions help to alleviate the physical discomfort. Medication with the active ingredients paracetamol or acetylsalicylic acid can help against severe pain.
Furthermore, plenty of water should be drunk. In the case of very severe sunburn, a dermatologist or family doctor should be consulted. In rare cases, inpatient treatment is also necessary.
The frequent occurrence of sunburn can lead to changes in the pigmentation of the skin and even to skin cancer. The most important aftercare for a sunburn that has already been treated is to prevent further burns from occurring. Because of this, the follow-up and preventive measures are similar. It is important to avoid sunbathing at lunchtime.
This is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest and can burn and permanently damage the skin. Basically, especially in summer, you should pay attention to the use of suitable sun protection such as sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 and UV-impermeable clothing. A hat should be worn to protect the scalp. In order to avoid later damage to the skin, the solarium should only be used rarely or not at all.
In general, a healthy diet is important for maintaining the function of the skin. The intake of a sufficient amount of vitamins and the supply of water are indispensable. In addition to these measures, regular visits to the dermatologist are also very important. This should be consulted once a year for a skin cancer screening. If there are any changes to the skin, you should see him immediately for clarification.
You can do that yourself
In many cases, sunburn can be alleviated very well by self-help. The most important factor in this context is that the affected person immediately gets out of the sun so as not to further expose their stressed skin to the strain.
Cooling the reddened and overheated skin often brings rapid relief. However, pure ice cubes should not be placed on the skin for this purpose. Wet towels cool much more gently. There are a lot of home remedies that can be used to good effect on sunburn. These include, above all, the yoghurt or quark packs. They have a healing effect and are also able to pleasantly cool sun-reddened skin areas. Also the aloe verais a moisturizer to a large extent. It can be used as a plant or gel. In general, the following applies in this context: If gels or ointments are used, it must be ensured that they are free of fat. It is absolutely necessary not to pierce blisters or remove slowly loosening skin residues because of the risk of infection and delaying the regeneration of the skin.
If you have a sunburn, you often also have sunstroke or at least a significant lack of fluids. This can be ideally balanced with water and herbal teas. Those affected should avoid alcohol and coffee because of the counterproductive effect.