Sunburn - It's more than just red skin

Sunburn (erythema) is your skin's natural defense against overexposure to ultraviolet rays.

Spending a day in the sun is an idea of a great time for many folks. But just one burn can severely damage your skin, and it can also increase your risk of skin cancer.

The best thing to do, obviously, is to take care and prevent it in the first place. Many cosmetics now have sunscreen built in, so you can protect your skin just by putting on your makeup. Avoid the sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm, when the sun's rays are strongest. Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses with UV protection that wrap around to protect the skin at the corner of your eyes, long-sleeved light-colored clothing and sunscreen. Reapply the sunscreen to your skin every couple of hours, and don't forget areas like the tops of your feet and your ears. Beware of tanning beds, which can also burn your skin.

Major sunburn

image © Amy Walters |

If your skin does end up getting sunburned, here are some skincare tips. You can try the following home remedies:

Take a cool shower or bath, and/or apply cool compresses to the affected skin for 15 minutes a few times a day. Gently pat your skin dry with a towel - do not rub.

Cut the leaves of an aloe vera plant lengthwise, remove the gel inside, and smear the gel on your skin.

Soak a small piece of cloth or some cotton gauze in whole milk and apply carefully to the burned skin. Leave it on for about 15 - 20 minutes, and then rinse the skin with cool water.

Slice open a cucumber and wipe it directly onto your skin.

Peeling Sunburn

The above photograph shows tan lines, tanned skin, new skin where the sunburn occurred and is in the process of peeling, and reddened skin.

The information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. Severe burns to the skin can require immediate medical attention. If you get a fever, nausea, dizziness, become sensitive to light or experience severe pain, see a doctor at once. Doctors can prescribe a corticosteroid cream that soothes the skin and can speed up the healing process. A family member of mine was prescribed "silver cream" for his skin after a burn injury. It's expensive, but it's worth it. Your skin is worth it. Skin is the body's largest organ, after all.

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