Skincare 101

Sunburn 101: What really happens in a sunburn

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Swan Sunburn

Quick Advice

Scary, but true. Your risk for skin cancer doubles after getting just five serious sunburns.

We all know the feeling – you just spent a fun-filled, sunny, summer day at the beach with friends. You’re no novice – you applied your favorite SPF first thing in the morning before hitting the sand, but come 4pm, you’re pink and your skin is stinging. You’re sunburned. 

Let’s talk all things sunburn to get our facts straight on how to avoid this uncomfortable and damaging summer woe that has plagued us all at least once!

Sunburn — the red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch — usually appears within a few hours after too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine or artificial sources, such as sunlamps (If you see us at Heyday, we hope you don’t partake in these...)  

We gave you all the scoop on the UV index before, but now its time to talk about what those UV rays are doing to your skin. The production of melanin, the dark pigment in the outer layer of skin (our epidermis) that gives your skin its color, is accelerated when you're exposed to UV light. The extra melanin creates the darker color of a tan and is your body’s way of protecting you from the strong UV rays. All of us produce melanin at a different rate; that amount is determined by our genetics. Some of us don’t produce enough to protect the skin, thus we end up with the dreaded sunburn.

This uncomfortable, irritated red skin can take several days to heal and fade. Often after a few days, the body may start to heal by peeling off the top layer of damaged skin. However, the burn itself isn’t the only side effect from repeated, unprotected sun exposure. This also leads to an increase in risk of other skin damage (dry or wrinkled skin, dark spots, rough spots) and skin cancer. In fact, your risk for skin cancer doubles after getting just five serious sunburns.

It turns out that any exposed part of your body can burn, including your scalp, lips and the often forgotten earlobe. Even covered areas can burn if your clothing is sheer!

You might be familiar with some of the symptoms of sunburn like pinkness and redness and skin that feels warm or hot to the touch, but did you know that when the burn is severe enough you can suffer from headaches, fevers, chills, fatigue and small fluid-filled blisters? Luckily there are things you can do to prevent sunburn from occurring. Check out our article earlier this summer on our top picks for SPF this summer and the fast facts behind sunscreen. Apply every two hours or so, and hop under this beach tent, possibly the chicest one we’ve ever seen.

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