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International Global Health Blog

Health effect of UV radiation - Sunburn

International Global Health


High doses of UV radiation kill most of the skin cells in the upper skin layer, and cells that are not killed get damaged. In it is mildest form, sunburn consists of a reddening of the skin called erythema.

 

This appears shortly after UV radiation exposure and reaches a maximum intensity between 8 and 24 hours. It then fades over the course of a few days. However, a strong sunburn may cause the skin to blister and peel, which is not only painful but also leaves the very white and new skin underneath unprotected and even more prone to UV damage.

 

Diagnosis

A mild sunburn does not normally require a visit to the doctor. However, if there are severe symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.

A doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be conducted and, for some cases of sun damage - you may be referred to a dermatologist.

 

Treatment

Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn a result of skin receiving too much exposure from the sun`s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person`s risk for getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.

 

It is important to start treatment for sunburn as soon as possible. Sunburn can lead to permanent skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. The following are some simple ways to ease the discomfort of sunburn;

  • Peeling skin
  • Cool the skin
  • Rehydrate – drink more water
  • Apply moisturizer
  • Stay out of sun

 

Tips

Sunscreen should never be used to prolong the duration of sun exposure.

  1. Limit time in the midday sun 
    The sun`s UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To the extent possible, limit exposure to the sun during these hours.
  2. Wear protective clothing 
    A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face, and the back or your neck. Sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection will greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose fitting clothes will provide additional protection from the sun.
  3. Use sunscreen
    Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.

 

References:

World Health Organization (WHO)

NHS

WebMD

American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)

Medical News Today

Medicine Health

 

 



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