The majority of people will seek the sun in the summer to get a good tan, but the other consequence of spending time in the sun is burning. Most people have experienced both getting a good tan and getting sunburn at some time or another — one pleasant, one not quite so. However, is it not odd that some people will tan far better than others, while some will just burn, regardless of time spent in the sun? The reason has to do with people’s skin type, although some other factors like oil based skin products and types of medication can also cause variations.
After skin has been laid out in the sun for a little while, melanin, the skin’s natural pigment, begins to rise closer to the surface of the skin, and gives it the characteristic tan color. Melanin protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which is why the indigenous populations of sunny countries have darker skin than those from cooler climates, and those with dark skin tend to just go darker rather than burn. Therefore, it is more important for people with light skin to wear sunscreen, but everyone should still use it.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that they are burning until it is too late when the burn has developed, and you probably won’t put extra sunscreen on if you don’t feel it. It is only later on that that you really feel how bad your skin feels.
It is not only the bright red skin tone that you get from having sunburn; there are almost always other effects. Strong sunburn can cause sunstroke — you feel dizzy, light headed, nauseous and thirsty. As new skin begins to grow, the dead layer will start to peel off. Do not be fooled into thinking sunburn results in a tan — it doesn’t.
There are very few things that can be done to avoid these symptoms once you are burnt. However, you can wear lightweight, loose clothing to reduce rubbing, and perhaps take an aspirin to get rid of the pain. Also, you need to keep yourself cool, so have a tepid bath or use a sunburn cooling spray. The best way to heal sunburn is simply to protect yourself in the first place.
Old wives’ tale style solutions such as soaking in vinegar or rubbing butter into the burn may have been around for ages, but they really don’t work. It is even often advised to not use sprays or creams, as there is always a chance that this will simply make the pain worse. Stupid ideas, such as rubbing butter onto the sunburned skin, will only keep heat in, so will not help at all.
If you also develop blisters, this may be a sign of harsh second degree burning, and whether it arrives straight away or after a few days, it is a sign that the problem is bad and that you should get medical advice immediately.