Despite the precautions we may take to prevent skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology in 2020 conducted an interesting study that found 60% of Americans experienced a bad case of sunburn over Memorial Day. We know the dangers from too much sun exposure, but sometimes we may miss the signs of sunburn symptoms until it’s too late.
You may have your broadband spectrum sunscreen on and assume you are safe. However, you may neglect to check the time for following up application of sunscreen while having fun or falling asleep. To prevent symptoms, you need to apply more sunscreen every two hours or sooner if swimming or sweating excessively.
If you’re outside when your shadow is short, the sun is right over you. Around noon the sun is the strongest. In fact, it can subject you to about 50% more UV radiation. The surprising thing that you may not know to prevent these symptoms is even with a fresh application of sunscreen during this peak time that this radiation can still penetrate the skin. Your best defense is staying in the shade for a while.
The amount of sunscreen that you need to apply may be more than you think to avoid symptoms. You don’t want to apply just enough to sink into your skin to avoid that greasy feel. Instead, you want enough of that lotion or spray to keep the skin wet for about a minute or two for the sunscreen to be effective. Otherwise, you are wasting your money and setting the stage for sunburn.
Another mistake is believing wearing white or pastel colors will help reflect the sun’s rays. The truth is that darker vibrant color such as a bright red, and a lemon yellow or a shocking orange absorbs the sun’s rays better to ward off sunburn symptoms.
Speaking of clothing, you also may be under the assumption that breezy cotton offers great protection. It may feel cooler, but synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon, especially if they have less stretch in the fit are more helpful to guard against sunburn symptoms.
Hats help keep a head cooler. They also are wonderful to prevent frying your hair, but wearing the wrong type is a mistake. You need a brim that keep your face and neck in shadow than some close-fitting cap or visor that can leave your ears and neck exposed. I love big straw hats, but one with a tighter fabric like canvas is even better.
Something else that you may not have thought about is taking medication and the photosensitivity that may result. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor about how your prescriptions may react when spending time in the sun. Believe it or not, common over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (such as Motrin, Advil or a generic one) to naproxen (Aleve) can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn.
Being at the beach swimming and then relaxing under a big umbrella is great. Nonetheless, you are still vulnerable to the sun because while some protection is provided there is another concern to be aware of. Sand and the water reflect the sun that could bounce back to your eyes or skin.
Naturally, red skin is the first thing to indicate sunburn. Yet, what you also monitor more closely is if that skin starts to itch. The reason this signals trouble is because of underlying inflammation the sun is causing to release proteins from the cells called cytokines that bring on pain and possible nerve injury.
Another of these sunburn symptoms you need to pay attention to is if the skin when pressed turns white. This is bad news because the skin beneath your fingers is sunburned enough that the blood temporarily can’t flow to that pressed spot.
Though I hope you won’t ever suffer from sunburn again, here are some home remedies for sunburn that can help with that pain.