According to the Cancer Council Australia, approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. And, with skin cancers accounting for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in Australia, makes melanoma the third most common cancer in the country.
Both UVA and UVB radiation contribute to sunburn, but how the skin reacts to each differs.
UVA rays penetrate into the deeper skin layers, which is where DNA damage can occur. UVB rays are responsible for a suntan as well as sunburn, and promote premature skin ageing. UVB affects the surface skin layer and when irritated, the skin’s reaction is to dilate the blood vessels, which causes fluid leakage and inflammation. This is what we see as sunburn.
Yet, while you may be trying your best to keep protected from the sun, we get it. Sometimes, sunburn is unavoidable. So, to help with recovery next time you’ve had a little too much sun, here’s what you should do:
- Maintain your intake of water. If your skin is dehydrated, the likelihood is that you are too. If the sunburn is really bad, there’s also the chance of suffering from sunstroke, so ensuring you keep up your fluids is paramount
- Try cooling your body down in a cool shower to help aleviate pain
- Avoid using soaps or anything that might irritate the skin
- Use soothing products for immediate relief such as aloe vera
- If necessary, over the counter pain relief can be used to help with the inflammation
- Avoid wearing figure hugging clothing
- If the skin has begun to blister, do not pop them. Consult your doctor if they are of concern to have them appropriately dressed and to avoid infection
- The skin’s natural healing process is to peel, so while there are no products that will stop this from happening, you can apply a gentle (non petroleum or oil based) moisturiser to help boost the hydration levels of the under layers of the skin
- Try not to pick at peeling skin – if need be, remove the dead skin slowly to ensure you’re not removing more skin than you intended
- While sunburnt, avoid the sun at all costs
Repeated sunburn not only damages the skin’s surface and can leave you with visual sunspots and wrinkles, but once the DNA damage has occurred, it is impossible to reverse, which can lead to deadly melanoma and skin cancer.
So, remember to stay out of direct sunlight during peak periods of the day (11am-3pm) and always wear an SPF 50+ sunscreen along with protective clothing such as hat and rash vest.