If you live in Australia, you’re likely to have experienced the effects of sunburn at least once in your life. So what exactly is sunburn?
Sunburn is the effect of excess Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) exposure from the sun. UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun and is classified into 3 different wavelengths; UVA, UVB, or UVC.1
Most UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the earth. However, UVA and UVB penetrate the atmosphere and play a big role in issues such as premature ageing, eye damage and skin cancers, they can even suppress the immune system.
Whilst both UVA and UVB radiation both contribute to skin damage, UVB is the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn, as it tends to damage the surface, epidermal layer of skin.
What should you do if you get sunburn?
- Apply a soothing lotion or gel to calm the discomfort of the burn such as SKINFIT Soothing Aloe Gel
- Take a cool, light shower to re-establish the body’s temperature to cool.
- Drink fluids to re-hydrate the body. Exposure to excess rays can be very dehydrating, so it’s important to remember to keep up optimum levels of fluids.
- This one might be obvious, but it’s vital you stay out of the sun to prevent further damage to already aggravated skin cells.
- If you are suffering a fever, see your doctor, as it may indicate heat stroke.
- If a young child has suffered a serious sunburn and is at high risk of heat stroke, see your doctor.
How to prevent sunburn
Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes, and skin usually turns red in the next few hours of skin damage.2
Protect yourself in 5 ways:
- Wear clothing that covers your shoulders, arms and legs. Wear shirts with collars, and sleeves and trousers or skirts that fall below the knees.
- Apply a sunscreen with an SPF30+ or higher, and that has broad-spectrum water-resistant properties. Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure and re-apply every 2 hours.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat that shelters your face, ears and neck. Broad-brimmed, and bucket hats provide good protection.
- Base yourself in the shade whenever you can, especially when UV levels are highest.
- Always wear sunglasses that meet Australian Standard to protect your eyes, which can also be affected by the sun.