Sunburns: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Treatment and Prevention

Did you know sunburns can turn into serious health concerns? Here is all you need to know about symptoms, cure, care, treatment and prevention

Vani Malik
Written by: Vani MalikPublished at: Jan 30, 2013Updated at: Jun 17, 2020
Sunburns: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Treatment and Prevention

Skin damage due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is called sunburn. It is characterised by the red colour of the skin accompanied by mild pain that feels warm when touched. Sunburnt skin starts peeling after some time, which is a normal healing process. After the sun-damaged skin gets “peeled” naturally, temporary change in skin is seen, which returns to normal after some days depending on the extent of the damage. Did you know sunburn is not just something that comes and goes with seasons, but it remains and further damages the skin to a grave extent? In some cases, it is also a significant risk of skin cancers, leading to more need for attention towards sunburn in summer. Paying heed on time to such trivial skin issues is extremely important as ignoring it can only make things worse. In some cases, sunburn can be treated simply by taking some home measures or using sunburn home remedies while some may require doctor intervention too. Hence, before anything, we list down some essential knowledge about sunburn that we all should know about:


Symptoms Of Sunburn

Symptoms of sunburn are visible only after a few hours from sun exposure, but the severity of damage is known only after 24 hours. Following are some of the symptoms of sunburn that should raise the alarm to take necessary measures:

  • Inflamed or red colour of skin
  • Sunburnt skin feels warm when touched
  • Mild or severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Blisters- small to water-filled blisters
  • Chills, fever, nausea and tiredness
  • Itchiness and pain while touching the skin

Here's what happens in sunburn:

the dynamics-of-sunburn

Also Read: Not Just Your Skin, But Your Eyes Can Get Sunburnt Too. Here's All You Need To Know

Causes Of Sunburn

Sunburns are caused due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Body’s natural mechanism of protecting itself from sun damage is by producing Melanin. Melanin is a pigment which is responsible for our skin colour. Tanning happens as a natural protective measure of the skin due to the production of excess melanin. Sunburn damage goes beneath the skin resulting in pain. Fair-skinned people are at more risk of sunburns due to a lower presence of melanin. There exist certain risk factors too, which can lead to the possibility of sunburn more in certain people. 

VIDEO: Some tips to tackle sun tan at home:

Risk factors Of Sunburn

Following are the risk factors of sunburn that we should keep in mind, before deciding on the need of taking necessary precautions for healthy skin:

  • Fair-skinned or light- complexion people are more prone to sun damage due to lower presence of melanin.
  • People staying in high altitudes where sun’s rays are the strongest are at a greater risk than people in the plains.

Treatment Of Sun burn

There comes a time when all these symptoms mentioned above do indicate an urgent need to cure the sunburnt skin to limit further skin damage. Hence, there are certain treatments that one can look out for to get rid of sunburnt skin in no time:

  • Sunburn treatment can only help reduce pain, swelling and discomfort.
  • Apply a cool compress on sunburnt areas, cool showers also helps.
  • Apply soothing lotions such as aloe vera gel on affected parts.
  • Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help relieve the pain.

Always understand that even minor skin issues can lead to something as drastic as cancers. Hence, keep looking for various warning signs and signals. Any new bump, skin rash or discolouration on the skin should be immediately reported to a doctor as cancers don’t come with a host of symptoms. It only comes with minor or subtle signs, which are difficult to notice. Hence, if you are one of those who have to be out in the sun owing to their job schedules, take all necessary precautions to stay safe from a various serious illness.

Prevention Of Sunburn

The most important in tackling sunburn is to take necessary precautions. Hence, saving yourself from the harmful rays can be difficult, but certainly some precautionary measures can help reduce the contact. Hence, some simple prevention tips to control sunburn are as follows:

  • Avoid sun exposure: Sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 in the morning to 4 in the evening. Sun exposure for moderate time and at “safe” hours is appropriate.
  • Protective clothing and gears: Wear clothing that covers your extremities and wear a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses which block UV rays.


Also Read: Why It Is Important To Apply Sunscreen? Benefits and DIY Sunscreen At Home

  • Use sunscreen: Always head out with a minimum SPF 30 before stepping outdoors and follow the product label instructions for reapplication.
  • Opt for Home Remedies: Immediately after you are back home from outdoors opt for some home remedies to cure sunburn. Wash your hands with cold water or the skin exposed to the sun. Apply aloe vera or raw tomatoes and rub on the skin for a few minutes. Try not to be extremely harsh as sunburnt skin may even lead to a certain tingling sensation.

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