It’s that time again, when people are either getting brown or, unfortunately, red. There are a lot of people who get sunburns when they’re in the sun too much, but what is the actual cause of a sunburn? How should we treat them?

What is a sunburn?

A sunburn is characterized by a redness of your skin in addition to swelling and pain, and is the result of too much exposure to the sun.

What causes a sunburn?

Last week, we talked about ultraviolet radiation and its three subtypes. Of those three subtypes (A, B, C), it is UVB that causes sunburns.

The energy from these UVB rays (from the sun!) damages the cells at the surface of our skin, affecting our DNA. This results in the production of different proteins whose effects lead to our blood vessels in that area to widen, or dilate. 

This dilation of the blood vessels allow more blood cells to flow through them, which is why your skin gets redder. Your skin also gets warmer and begins to swell due to the enlargement of the vessels.

It usually takes between 4-6 hours for the proteins to be synthesized after overexposure, so inflammation and swelling won’t be observed until after that.

DNA damage can also lead to the destruction of a cell in contrast to the synthesis of different proteins; this is why your skin peels when you have a really bad sunburn.

Treatment and Prevention

As I mentioned last week, the way to prevent a sunburn and to protect yourself from UV radiation is to use sunscreen.

There are several different ways to treat a sunburn. To relieve pain, you try cooling down the sunburn with a cool bath or shower, or with aloe vera gel. The Aloe Vera gel will also help in moisturizing the dry skin.

And I feel like I say this all the time but stay hydrated! It’ll help.

You should always protect the sunburned skin too if you’re going to go outside. Usually the best way to do this is to cover it with clothing but if you can’t, then a thin layer of aloe vera with a top off of sunscreen spray will work!


And that’s the basics of a sunburn! Play safe and stay smart!


2 thoughts on “Sunburns

  1. Pingback: On a related note… | Know Your Body and Health

  2. Pingback: Blisters | Know Your Body and Health

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