Sunburn is a damage caused to the skin by the extreme ultra-violet (UV) rays of the sun. In fact, sunburn is considered to be the most common types of damages caused by radiation and exposure to the UV rays for even only 10 minutes can stimulate the skin to trigger a series of defences against the damages. The initial indications of damage caused by sunburn are redness of the skin.

Interestingly enough, though nearly everyone is aware of the fact that radiation is detrimental for their skin and also the overall health, they expose themselves to the detrimental consequences of ultra-violet rays of the skin regularly on their own accord.

Radiation possesses the aptitude to incite deadly diseases including cancer. In fact, with more and more people taking to sunbathing for pleasure as well as a means to tan their skin, there has been a steady rise in incidences of skin cancer as well as actinic keratosis, which is considered to be a forerunner to skin cancer. It has been established that apart from actinic keratosis, all other forms of skin cancer, especially the non-melanoma forms (such as basal as well as squamous cell cancer) have a direct association with exposure to the sun.

Exposing one to direct sunlight for long during his/ her early life is particularly relevant to developing sunburn and subsequently the associated health issues. In fact, several people are mostly exposed to the sun during their childhood days. It has been found that even when one is exposed to the sun during his/ her childhood, the sunburn augments the chances of enduring skin cancer later in their life. Nevertheless, sunburn is not the sole reason for our skin being damaged by radiation, for even a tan can also result in skin damage by the ultra-violet rays.

Sunburn causes many signs and symptoms and some of them generally appear within a just a few hours of being exposed to the sun and they may persist for some days. Such symptoms of radiation due to sun exposure include the skin becoming reddish or pinkish, swelling, fatigues, headaches, fever, pain or tenderness, blisters filled with fluids, and the skin becoming warm or hot when touched.

While the symptoms related to sun exposure may begin to appear immediately after one has been out in the sun, they may keep on exacerbating for a couple of days after they emerge. When the sunburn begins to heal, the top most skin layer damaged by sun exposure will gradually begin to peel off. Occasionally, such skin peeling may leave behind uneven, dappled colors on the skin layers below.

It is worth noting that a number of specific factors can augment the chances of a person developing damaged skin when exposed to the intense ultra-violet rays of the sun. Some of these factors, which include skin type, location of the individual, time of the day and indoor tanning are discussed below:

Skin type
The skin complexion of an individual is considered to be the main risk factor for skin likely to be damaged by exposure to the sun. People having fair or pale skin complexion usually have skin that is more susceptible to sunburn. Moreover, such types of skin will not tan modestly. As a result, the chances of them getting sunburn are greater. On the other hand, individuals with brown, olive or black skin complexion will seldom get sunburn easily. The skin of such people will also not tan easily. Nevertheless, even people with black, olive or brown skin colors can also have their skin damaged due to exposure to intense sunlight. However, the risk faced by them is not as much as those faced by people with pale or fair skin.
People, who live in places located on a high altitude, having climates akin to what prevails in high altitudes or in places receiving plenty of sunlight, have a greater risk of developing sunburn, as these places receive more intense sunlight. As a result the effects of the detrimental ultra-violet rays too are more.
Time of day
Aside from the above two risk factors, the chances of developing sunburn increases when one goes outdoors during the day time, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The intensity of sunlight is much more during this time of the day compared to other periods.
Indoor tanning
Use of commercially available tanning beds also enhances the chances of developing damaged skin due to sunburn. Though they have nothing to do with sunlight, these machines also use ultra-violet (UV) rays for skin tanning.

How to ease symptoms related to sunburns

Unfortunately, sunburn does not have any quick fix treatment. Similar to other instances of burns, sunburn takes a considerable time to heal. In fact, applying cold water compressions to the affected areas and taking cold baths can help to ease the symptoms to some extent. In addition, certain creams (Elma 01 Skin Ointment) that help to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized may also prove to be useful in alleviating the pain temporarily. Several people are of the view that applying such creams may also aid in reducing the peeling of the affected skin eventually. It is worth mentioning here that many people also apply butter to the affected areas, as they consider it to be an old and effective remedy for sunburns. However, butter should never be applied to sunburns because it increases the chances of developing infections. If you have developed sunburn, you should also stay away from anesthetic creams and sprays, unless your physician have recommended otherwise.

In severe instances of sunburns, which are often accompanied with blistering and second-degree burns over large areas, the victim needs to be hospitalized and admitted to a burns unit. The treatment in such cases is similar to that administered to other burn patients. People suffering from extreme sunburn cases may be given steroids as well as fluid replacement as a part of their treatment.