What is Sunburn and How to Prevent It?

What is Sunburn and How to Prevent It?

Sunburn is a type of Radiation burn which mainly affects the living tissues specially Skin. Sunburn results from overexposed to Ultraviolet radiation especially from sun.  Reddish or red skin that is hot to the touch, mild dizziness, general fatigue and pain are the most common symptoms of the sunburn among humans. Suntan is produced in case of exposure of the skin to the lesser quantity of Ultraviolet radiation. Main cause of primarily non-malignant is excessive Ultraviolet radiation. Sunburn increases the risk of three types of skin cancer:

  1. Melanoma.
  2. Basal-Cell Carcinoma.
  3. Squamous-Cell Carcinoma.


Signs and symptoms

There is preliminary redness or erythema including varying degrees of pain which is proportional in severity to the duration and intensity of exposure.

Syncope, edema, chills, peeling skin, fever, rash and nausea are the other symptoms of the sunburn. Sometimes, concentration of blood can emits small amount of heat from the burn during the healing process.



  1. Minor sunburn.
  2. Serious sunburn.
  3. Extreme sunburn.


Duration of Sunburn

  1. Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes.
  2. It can occur in seconds if exposed to sources of intense ultraviolet light. Yet, the inflicted damage is often not instantly obvious.
  3. Skin may turn red in as little as 30 minutes after the exposure but normally it takes 2 to 6 hours.
  4. Pain is normally extreme from 6 to 48 hours after the exposure.
  5. The burn continues to develop for 1 to 3 days and sometimes followed by peeling skin in 3 to 8 days.
  6. Certain peeling and itching may continue for several weeks.


Causes of Sunburn

  1. UV radiation is responsible for sunburn specially form the sun or any other artificial sources.
  2. Artificial sources of UV radiation are Tanning Lamps, Welding Arcs, or Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation.
  3. Certain antibiotics, tranquillizers and oral contraceptives sensitize users to UV radiation.
  4. Exposure to strongest sun rays may cause sunburn.
  5. Reflective surfaces such as sand, water, snow, concrete, and ice etc. also reflects sun rays which causes sunburn.
  6. Higher altitude is easier to become burnt.




  • Most effective way is to protect the skin from the exposure to UV radiation as far as possible.
  • Use of sunscreens or sunblocks may lower the degree of damage of the skin.
  • For protection from artificial sources of UV radiation, special protective clothing should be worn such as welding helmets or shields.
  • Use of Sunglasses may protect the eyes from harmful UV radiation.
  • Dietary factors also influence vulnerability to sunburn, risk of secondary complications from sunburn and recovery from sunburn.
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E was found helpful to reduce the amount of sunburn in certain cases.
  • It is also found that Vitamin A supplementation has a protective effect against sunburn in the long term.


  • Avoiding further exposure to the sun is the primary measure.
  • Time is the best treatment for sunburn. It takes only few weeks to heel completely.
  • Using cool and wet clothes on the sunburned areas may reduce discomfort.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen and aspirin may reduce redness and pain.
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