A Love-Heat Relationship
What’s So Bad About a Sunburn?
…and why should we protect ourselves from the sun?
Written by Carlyn
We all know what a sunburn feels like—an uncomfortable, tight and stingy sensation that feels like it will never go away. And don’t even get me started on the peeling. Yikes.
Unfortunately, sunburns have developed a surprisingly “trendy” reputation, despite the amount of skin damage that actually occurs.
For some, a sunburn is an inevitable tradeoff for a beach vacation, which includes justifying remarks like my burn will turn into a tan or I need a base burn so that I can tan. Illogical and flawed, perpetuating the notion of sacrificing the health of your skin to meet a beauty standard is dangerous. Period.
For starters, a sunburn hurts you in more ways than one. The damage goes far beyond short-term pain and redness. Even after the sunburn fades, long-term damage remains.
By accelerating skin aging, sunburn is a principal cause in the majority of skin cancer cases including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma (I know, scary words). In fact, your risk of developing potentially deadly melanoma doubles with a history of five or more sunburns.
What actually is a sunburn?
Toronto dermatologist Dr. Kellett shares that sunburn is the skin’s response to injury, specifically exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Apart from the immediate effects of sunburn such as redness, blistering and pain, it contributes to the permanent damage of skin cells. This permanent damage can lead to changes or mutations in DNA resulting in the production of cancerous cells.
Why are some people more prone to sunburn?
Melanin is a natural pigment that gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. It also provides some protection against the sun’s intense rays by darkening unprotected skin exposed to the sun. Genetics determine the amount of melanin produced, which is the reason why some people badly sunburn while others tan. Skin type can determine the susceptibility of sunburn, where folks with fair skin run the greatest risk. However, anyone can get burned!
Even without a burn, UV radiation from the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. And although redness is hard to see on darker skin types, the sun can still cause cellular damage which can lead to cancer.
How can sunburn be avoided?
Even on a cloudy day, the sun is still very much a threat. Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate through the clouds, meaning that you can still burn on an overcast day.
The best way to approach sunburn is to avoid it in the first place. Daily sunscreen application is key in avoiding sunburn and sun damage, which includes wrinkling of the skin. We love the Clear Clinical 30 SPF Spray for comfortable and lightweight daily protection against the sun, while avoiding an acne breakout too. Wearing a hat with a proper brim while exposed is also crucial in the practice of sun safety. Finally, staying hydrated should be a priority too. Sun exposure can cause serious dehydration, which can lead to sun or heat stroke.
Sunburn is bad news. But, the good news is that it’s completely preventable. The best time to start? Today!
Stay cool & happy skincaring <3