Chances are, you’ve felt the sun’s wrath at some point in your life. If you’ve spent any time outdoors, and it’s hard to imagine there’s anybody out there reading this who hasn’t, you’ve likely experienced the dreaded sunburn.
We know about the stinging sensation we feel when our skin gets too much sun. It hurts when we shower or even lie in bed. Putting shirts on and taking them off? Forget it! The fabric rubbing against your skin is incredibly uncomfortable and unpleasant.
And even though the common belief is that we look better with a suntan, the same definitely cannot be said for a sunBURN. There’s nothing even remotely attractive about having bright red skin. Trust us…it’s not a good look!
There’s also that hot feeling you get while waiting for a sunburn to finally run its course and fade away. It feels like your skin is radiating heat — on both the inside and out! You know why it feels like that? Because it is!
Now the pain has gone away, but you’re not out of the woods yet. Now comes the peeling. Yes, the next step is to shed that burnt skin. Again, not a good look. It’s also pretty gross seeing your own derma-flakes on the inside of your shirt when you take it off or on your bed sheets when you wake up in the morning.
Ok, so that’s a quick recap of the life cycle and consequences of a sunburn, but what, exactly, causes these actions and what is actually happening to your skin.
What is a sunburn?
Ok, on the surface, this seems like a pretty dumb question, right? What is a sunburn? When your skin is in the sun for too long it gets burned. Pretty simple.
But what is it really? What is it about the sun that causes your skin to react in such a way, and what is the actual effect it is having?
The sun emits ultraviolet rays. There are two types of these rays that affect our skin. Those are UVA and UVB rays. It is the UVB rays that result in sunburn, while UVA rays impact the skin by contributing to signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and sun spots.
So, obviously a sunburn is the severe reddening of the skin caused by excessive sun exposure. But how does it happen?
When the skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for a prolonged period of time (this is actually somewhat of a misconception, as the process can begin in as little as 10 to 15 minutes), blood vessels begin to dilate. This is caused by inflammation initiated by the sun’s UVB rays, and it’s what causes the redness associated sunburns.
At this point, moisture escapes and the skin dries out, which is what causes tightness. In order to prevent the feeling of tight skin, prevent it with men’s sunscreen.
In an attempt to defend itself from further UV damage, the body produces a pigment called melanin. This is the body’s way of minimizing skin damage and beginning the healing process.
From red to shed
If your sunburn is fairly significant, there’s a good chance you’ll peel at some point in the process. It may be itchy and look gross, but this is actually a good thing.
It should come as no shock, but what is peeling off is actually damaged skin cells. Skin cells that are damaged by ultraviolet rays, especially UVB rays, are believed to contribute to the formation of skin cancer.
When these cells peel off, they are replaced by new, healthy cells.
Does time really heal all wounds?
Sure, in time your sunburn will fade away and you’ll forget it every happened. But damage has been done and, unfortunately, it is irreversible. When you suffer a sunburn, the affected skin’s DNA is altered and, as mentioned above, this creates opportunity for cancer to develop. Prevent it by wearing men’s sunscreen.
There are various types of skin cancer, with some being more dangerous than others, but let’s be clear…none of them are good. So, the best way to minimize the risk is to apply men’s sunscreen when going out in the sun.
But, assuming you didn’t do that and now you’re doing your best to heal, there are a few relatively simple steps you can take to help speed up the recovery process.
First, drink water. Lots of it! As stated above, one of the first things that happen in the sunburn process is the skin loses moisture. In order to rehydrate it, you must consume water. This is a good and important health tip at any time, but especially following a sunburn.
It’s also important that you cover any areas that have been burned when going out in the side. Long sleeves, collars, hats, etc. This obviously helps protect against additional damage. Also, try to wear clothing that doesn’t rub too harshly on your damaged skin. The less irritation you cause the better, for both pain reduction and healing purposes.
Also, your body has been burned. Oftentimes, taking cool showers or soaking in cool to mild baths is very soothing. So, in this case, if it feels good, do it! Your water bill may be a little high next time around, but those extra dollars will be well worth it if it helps relieve your pain and discomfort.
Of course, the old sunburn remedy is Aloe Vera. This product is available in a variety of forms and is proven to aid in the sunburn recovery process. The best way to apply Aloe Vera to sunburned skin is via a moisturizer or men’s sunscreen that contains the ingredient. These tend to be gentle and less abrasive, and with moisturizing qualities, they help rehydrate your skin while also providing pain relief.
It’s no secret that sunburns are terrible, so wear men’s sunscreen! Fortunately, wearing men’s sunscreen greatly reduces your risk of being burned and having to deal with the harmful and uncomfortable effects that come along with it.
If you’re going out in the sun, wear a broad spectrum men’s sunscreen, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of between 30 and 50.