refers to the overexposure to ultraviolet
(UV) radiation that causes the living
tissue such as the skin to scald. Milder
exposure to UV rays leads to suntan
wherein the skin becomes darker in color.
Sunburn can be life threatening as more
than 90% of skin cancers are caused
by sun exposure. Severe sunburns require
medical attention whereas mild cases
of sunburns can be treated at home.
Causes and Risk Factors
radiation penetrates deep within the
skin surface and changes its outward
appearance and the structure of the
cells. When the skin is exposed to sunlight,
it produces a pigment called melanin
to shield itself against the harsh ultraviolet
light. This causes the skin to become
darker, and this result is referred
to as a suntan. Tanning may prevent
you from suffering from sunburn very
easily but it does not protect you from
other harmful effects of UV radiation
such as premature aging and cancer.
There is a direct relationship between
the amount of melanin that an individual’s
skin contains and the amount of protection
that the individual has against the
effects of UV light. Individuals who
have lighter skin tones have less melanin,
so they are more likely to develop sunburn
quickly. Individuals who do not spend
much time outdoors are also at risk
of developing sunburn when they do go
in the sun. Sunburn does not necessarily
occur exclusively at the beach or during
the summer; sunlight that is reflected
off of the snow can also cause sunburn.
A breeze, cloudy sky, or swim may make
you feel cooler in the sun, but the
sunlight is still potent enough to damage
your skin at these times.
of sunburn increases in tropical regions
(the geographic region of the earth
centered on the equator and limited
in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer
in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic
of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere).
Chronic exposure to the sun and repeated
sunburns increase the individual’s
risk of developing skin cancer.
Symptoms of Sunburn
symptom of sunburn is the transformation
of the skin into a bright pink, red,
or brown color. Other symptoms of sunburn
are inflammation and irritation of the
skin, the skin feeling warm or burning
sensation on the skin, fever, feeling
cold, dizziness, nausea and vomiting,
swelling accompanied by formation of
fluid-filled blisters, and peeling of
of sunburn may develop after two to
four hours of extreme sun exposure,
and it may increase in severity with
the passage of time.