According to the American Academy of Dermatology in their pamphlet about The Sun and Your Skin published in 2008, ultraviolet (or UV) radiation from the sun can cause immediate and long-term damage to skin. These harmful rays are more intense during the summer months. Additionally, large bodies or water and expanses of sand have a tendency to reflect the already strong UV rays even more dramatically.
Nothing ruins a family vacation like a nasty case of sunburn. It can turn the happiest pool or beach trip into a disaster. Sunburn is not only painful, but can also cause irreversible long-term problems to include wrinkles, permanent discoloration and skin cancer. While all human skin is susceptible to sunburn, certain skin is more vulnerable than others.
Children are More Sensitive to the Sun’s UV Rays
According to the skin cancer overview at KnowCancer.com, people with blonde or red hair and blue or green eyes tend to burn more rapidly than people with darker hair and eyes. Additionally, they have more of a predisposition to certain types of skins cancer as a result of over-exposure to the sun. Freckled or very fair skinned people are also more likely to burn in the sun.
Infants and young children are at increased risk from the sun due to the fact that their skin is thinner, sometimes even translucent. Very small children should never spend any time in direct sunlight, but should be protected by clothing, hats, umbrellas or carriage coverings, as well as lotions with a sunscreen protection factor (also known as SPF) of at least 30.
A number of manufacturers make swim clothing that has UV protection woven into the material. These outfits are perfect for swimming and playing in the ocean, as they are light and water-resistant and they offer UV protection whether wet or dry.
Consider These Protective Measures When Spending Time in the Sun
- The sun’s UV rays are most dangerous during 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so avoid exposure during these hours unless extra precautions are taken.
- Apply SPF lotion of at least 15 to all exposed body areas including lips, ears and feet. Reapply often and liberally, particularly after swimming or other activities.
- Certain medications make people more vulnerable to sunburn or sun poisoning. Be familiar with medicine warnings regarding sunlight.
- Rent or buy an umbrella for the beach so that people have a completely protected place to go if sun exposure gets to be too much.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection and hats.
- Bring light-weight cover-ups to put on if skin starts to look pink.
- Drink plenty of water. Sun can cause accelerated dehydration.
How to Treat Sunburn or Sun Poisoning Symptoms
Sunburn and sun poisoning are essentially the same thing. They both describe photodermatitis, the medical term for a skin’s overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. Symptoms include a combination of the following: burning skin pain, red skin, swelling skin, blisters, peeling, itching, headache, fever, nausea and dizziness.
When dealing with sunburn, do NOT do any of the following:
- Do not pop, peel or pick at the blisters or any of the burned areas.
- Do not use soap on the burned area, as this will dry it out even more.
- Do not put any substance (this includes butter or other home remedies) on the burned area except for an aloe-vera based gel/lotion or a physician prescribed ointment.
When treating a sunburn, do the following:
- Take cool or tepid baths to ease the pain. Tea placed in the bath water can sometimes help soothe the reddened skin.
- Use an aloe-vera based gel or ointment specifically made for skin burns.
- Take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Wear loose clothing and stay still.
- If blisters pop, cover the new skin with an antibiotic cream and sterile gauze to protect the skin while it heals.
- Do not go out into the sun until you are fully recovered.
- When skins starts to heel and peel of its own accord, keep it well moisturized.
- If symptoms persist or worsen in a 24-hour period, seek immediate medical attention.
- While sunburn can be very painful, it will heal on its own over time. But make certain to take proper precautions when spending time in the sun. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.