Sunburn: General Facts You Should Know About

Track and field running can be a demanding sport as it requires you to practice anytime of the day. Oftentimes, runners have to practice under the heat of the sun, especially if a competition is just around the corner. Without skin protection, runners become more prone to skin problems, particularly sunburn.

Aside from runners, anyone may suffer from first degree sunburn or second degree sunburn. Sunburn is generally characterized by reddening of the skin which can occur hours after exposure to the sun or from other forms of ultraviolet light. While one can have sunburn anytime of the year, more cases are reported during summer because it is the time when many people get to enjoy outdoor activities under the direct heat of the blazing sun.

Aside from reddening of the skin, sunburn can have other symptoms which may include:

  • Pain that is worst within the next 48 hours and then slowly subsides
  • Tender skin that can be warm to touch
  • Blisters that may develop several hours or days later
  • Skin peeling on the affected area
  • Severe reactions such as nausea, rash, fever or chills

Causes of Sunburn

When the skin is exposed to the sun, it does not automatically result to sunburn. Sunburn only happens when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light or ultraviolet rays that exceed the ability of the skin to protect itself. The skin has a natural protective pigment in the form of melanin. People with dark skin have more melanin, so their risk of getting sunburn is lower that people who have fair or light skin. Also, sunburn normally develops when the skin is exposed to the sun without the necessary sun protection which includes clothing and sunscreen.

Risk Factors for Sunburn

Some people are more prone to sunburn that others because of the following risk factors:

  • Age – Children including infants have more sensitive skin that can easily get sunburned
  • Skin color – People with light-colored skin are more prone to sunburn than those with dark skin
  • Intake of certain medications – Certain medications including antibiotic doxycycline make the skin extra sensitive to the sun
  • Existing medical condition – People with certain medical problems such as lupus have a higher risk of getting sunburn
  • Time of exposure – the sun’s rays are at their peak from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Exposure to the sun within these times makes the skin easily develop sunburn

Home Care for Sunburn

Sunburn generally does not require medical attention unless severe symptoms exist. The most basic home care for sunburn is to take a cool shower as soon as you are out of the sun. Aside from a cool bath, spraying vinegar for sunburn may also be effective in preventing swelling. When the pain is no longer manageable, over-the-counter medicines for pain relief may also help.

It is best to prevent sunburn rather than to treat it. The most basic prevention tip is to avoid sun exposure during the peak time, or when you have to, the skin must be protected with appropriate sunscreen or clothing.

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