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What happens to your skin when you get a sunburn?

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Posted: 06/12/2012 Broad Spectrum Sunscreens with , , , , ,


Ever wonder just what happens to your skin when you get a sunburn? The redness, the pain, the peeling… it’s not just a few days of discomfort. The truth is, a person’s risk for melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – doubles if she or he has had five or more sunburns*. So let’s take a closer look at what happens to your skin when you burn, and why you should always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen:

The Burn
A sunburn is a clear sign that UV radiation (from the natural sun or artificial sun beds) has damaged the genetic material (DNA) in your skin cells. This damage can lead to skin cancer. The redness is caused by extra blood in the capillaries – if you press on sunburned skin it will turn white and then return to red as the capillaries refill.

The Pain
The symptoms of pain you feel from a sunburn is your body’s attempt to repair the damage caused by the burn.**

The Peeling
Your skin is damaged after a sunburn, and the peeling you experience is your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged cells. This is necessary because sun damaged cells are at risk of becoming cancerous.** Even though new skin layers of skin form, some damage may remain, and there may be an increased risk of skin cancer.**

A Sunburn vs. a Hot object burn
Sunburns are caused by the sun’s UV rays – which do not feel warm. (That’s why you can get a sunburn on a cool, cloudy day!) When a hot object is touched (like hot stove), skin can become red and painful, but there no DNA damage is done to cells, as it is with the sunburn. Only the sunburn can have lasting effects on the body.

I love this clever video from the people at SunSmart UK:

Do you remember your first (or last) sunburn? Tell me about it in the comments!

* Source: SkinCancer.org
** Source: sunsmart.org.uk

One of the first-ever licensed estheticians in the U.S., Barbara Salomone is the architect of the modern American facial. Since launching Bioelements Professional Skin Care in 1991, she has trailblazed the industry, incorporating nutritional supplements into topical skin care products, and pioneering the introduction of antioxidants, calcium, probiotics and lutein. Visit Bioelements on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.

Find Barbara on Google +

Comments (2)

Teresa Stenzel
teresa says:
Jun 14, 2012

When I was in my early 20′s, I went to a water park, applied a bit of sunscreen and then spent the next 8 hours in the blazing sun in the water. Because I didn’t apply enough sunscreen, and then did not reapply at all, I got a hideous burn that left me feverish, almost purple, and a lovely giant, red and swollen face. I will never forget the pain!

candice says:
Jun 18, 2012

Many years ago staying at a resort in Mission Bay, Ca. on a very cloudy August day, we played on the beach at the waters egde from early until dark.

Fyi…sunscreen products were not available at this time. We learned from lifeguards to use of zinc oxide to protect areas of our faces. Not a good look.

Later that day, I remember my skin feeling as if it were on fire. I looked a mess on my back and legs for a long time.

The number one, universal skin care product for all skin is a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.

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