If you or a loved one has gotten a bad sunburn, you may need sunburn relief. But before we share some great ways to care for yourself in the event of a burn, what is happening to your skin when the red and pain begin?
Causes of Sunburn
A sunburn is a form of radiation burn from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The UV rays affect the epidermis, or outer layer of skin by contacting the melanin, which can only absorb some of the damaging UV rays. Darker skinned people have more melanin, and thus are able to absorb more of the rays and have lesser risk of both sunburn and eventual skin cancer from overexposure to the sun.
At first, the UV light causes the melanin to react, which is why our skin becomes tan. But further exposure to the radiation affects deeper layers of cells in the epidermis and causes damage. This is what causes a burn.
Once this kind of a burn occurs, the burnt layer of skin cells becomes red, hot and may blister. These cells are dying off and our immune system reacts by sending more blood flow to the area. Additionally, the damaged cells also send out chemicals that cause our nerve endings to be more sensitive and to feel painful to the touch.
After layers of skin cells have died in this way, the skin will peel away with the loss of moisture. And the new skin cells that begin to grow underneath need extra protection because they are very sensitive and vulnerable to UV rays.
Tips for Sunburn Relief
So, how do you care for your skin in the event that you got caught out in the sun for to long?
1. Experts recommend taking aspirin or ibuprofen within the first 24 hours after a bad burn to decrease inflammation and get the red out. As we discussed above, the redness indicates damage to the skin cells and by addressing this immediately, you not only provide much needed sunburn relief, but you can help restore the skin’s health.
2. If the pain is extreme, try a spray like Solarcaine that has Lidocaine and will not only help your skin retain moisture, but will also have a pain killing, numbing effect for ailing skin cells. NOTE: If the burn is accompanied by nausea or fever, a doctor should be called immediately.
3. Lather yourself in a good healing cream that contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient like aloe Vera. This will not only ease pain, but will also lock in vital moisture and give you a jumpstart on reducing the chances that your skin will eventually peel, get itchy and flake off.
4. After the pain has subsided and the skin has healed a bit, exfoliate your once-burned skin with an alpha hydroxy acid face wash or with an over-the-counter Retinol cream. This will urge your skin to grow new, healthy cells and increase the production of collagen.
Your skin is precious, so be sure to limit sun exposure in the future and to wear a high SPF sunscreen.