I Have a Sunburn: What Should I Do?

March 15, 2022
I Have a Sunburn: What Should I Do?

The sun’s rays can do a ton of harm to our skin, beginning with burns. Here are all our tips for soothing skin overheated by sunburn!

After months spent locked up, the urge to sunbathe is getting stronger and stronger. We dreamed of its light and warmth!

Essential for our morale and our health, the sun makes it possible to synthesize vitamin D, release endorphins and increase the level of serotonin, two molecules of happiness.

However, the scientific evidence is irrefutable: the sun and its radiation also represent a great danger for our skin and our health.

The danger of UV

Long pointed out, UVB rays responsible for sunburn are ultimately not the most dangerous. Indeed, unlike UVB rays, which are stopped by windows or clouds, UVA rays, which are much more harmful, pass through everything and reach our skin in depth. 

Long frontage to the sun rays can therefore be liable for sunburn, it is the fastest visual harmful impact. 

But it can also promote premature aging of the skin, cause skin cancer (melanoma) or cause allergies (Lucitis). 

It is therefore essential to protect yourself with appropriate care for the slightest exposure.

Not all equal

Not all skin types react the same way to the sun’s rays. To determine our ability to tan and burn (!), we distinguish 6 phototypes.

Phototype 0: extremely white skin, white or light golden hair. This phototype is dedicated to albino people who cannot expose themselves to the sun.

Phototype I: extremely fine complexion, freckles, red hair, light eyes, the skin burns fast, never tans.

Phototype II: extremely fine complexion, blond hair, light eyes, the skin burns smoothly and hardly tans.

Phototype III: fair complexion, brown hair, blue, green, or brown eyes, may have sunburn but tan a little.

Phototype IV: dull complexion, chestnut or brown hair, the skin burns infrequently and tans well.

Phototype V: swarthy complexion, black hair, and eyes, the skin seldom burns and tans a lot.

Phototype VI: black skin, black hair, and eyes, the skin seldom burns and tans extremely fast.

Do you identify yourself in one of these phototypes? Between 0 and 3, it is imperative to use very high protection: an SPF 50+ sunscreen. 

Between 4 and 6, you can use an index 30 (minimum) provided you do not have skin problems. 

As a reminder, no one is immune to risks, even the darkest skin types, which are generally better protected naturally against the sun.

What is a sunburn?

You may have already experienced it. After a brief moment on a deckchair, your shoulders shift red and the skin evolves painfully.

Maybe you even saw blisters appear? Far from being trivial, sunburn is a burn that destroys thousands of skin cells and its severity varies according to the type of skin, the duration of exposure, or the location. 

It can be more or less mild, like a first-degree burn which results in reddening of the skin and itching, but can go as far as a deep second-degree burn. 

Do you think you are sheltered during a swim? Oh no! Not only does UVB reach the parts of your body immersed in water, but the face out of the water undergoes reverberation and can absorb up to 180% of UV!

What to do in case of sunburn?

It all depends on its severity. In multiple matters, it is completely feasible to treat your sunburn yourself, but some burns are not to be handled lightly and may demand a talk. 

At any point, there are not thirty-six treatments: take cover immediately and cool the charred area for about 15 minutes in the shower with moisture at 15 or 25 degrees maximum. 

If the area is large (the back for example), immerse yourself in a lukewarm bath. Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water, and watch your temperature. 

Finally, do not re-expose yourself the following days. Protect the burned areas with cotton clothing and the rest of the skin with high protection sunscreen.

Also Read: 6 Tips to Prepare Your Skin for the Sun

First-degree burn

How to recognize it? It appears a few hours after exposure. The skin is red and not blistered but may itch or peel.

What to do? This sunburn heals in a week and leaves no scars or pigmentation. You can use a soft cream such as Biafine, after-sun milk, or organic aloe vera to moisten and relieve the skin. Do not release the small skins that come off.

Superficial second-degree burn:

How to recognize it? If superficial, the skin is red, painful, and fluid-filled blisters appear immediately or a few hours after exposure.

What to do? These sunburns heal spontaneously in two weeks but can leave pigment spots on the skin. Gently disinfect the burned skin to prevent infection. Once the skin is washed, you can help it with a cream.

Deep second-degree burn:

How to recognize it? In more severe burns such as a deep second-degree burn, the pain is less felt because the nerve endings have been burned and the blisters have a pale background.

What to do? It is imperative to consult a doctor. And this, especially if you feel headaches and have a fever. Healing may take a month and the skin may be scarred.

What not to do after a sunburn

Reexpose! Your skin is already very damaged, no need to take even more risks.

Wearing too-tight clothes, let your skin breathe.

Scratching or tearing off the peeling skin, at the risk of causing infections and delaying healing.

Putting on foundation suffocates the skin which needs to breathe to regenerate itself and can cause infections.

Not hydrating, sunburn leads to water loss and dehydrates the body. Your body, therefore, needs water to regenerate itself better.

Prevention is better than cure

Back to sunscreen. Your protection and you must be inseparable all summer long. Use a thick layer to all uncovered spots of the body, 20 minutes before going out. 

Duplicate the process every two hours or behind each swim. Never expose a baby or a child under the age of three. And if possible, seek maximum shade and always wear a hat, sunglasses, and clothing. They remain the best defenses against UV.

Image by Victoria Borodinova via Pexels 

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Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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