Summer is a great time to be outdoors, enjoying sunny beaches or the lush green of lakes, forests, and mountains; but the season has its own dangers. Chief among them is sunburn, a potentially serious condition that can happen quickly, but can be prevented with some simple skin care precautions.
Sunburn results from exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun; the symptoms may not appear until hours after exposure to the sun, so it’s easy to get a serious sunburn and not realize it as it is happening. Symptoms include red and ultimately peeling skin and mild to severe pain of the affected area. Severe sunburns can actually result in second-degree burns, secondary infections, and dehydration, and in the most extreme cases, shock or even death. Long-term effects can range from premature wrinkling to malignant melanoma, a deadly form of cancer.
The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Skin care precautions include wearing a hat with a wide enough brim to protect your face and neck from direct exposure to the sun, and wearing protective clothing. Some sports outfitters actually carry outdoor clothing with specific SPF ratings to let you know just how much protection you are getting.
Traditional sunscreens are not as effective as previously thought; first-generation sunscreens have protected against UVA but not UVB rays. New sunscreens promise skin care ingredients that protect against both types of ultraviolet rays, and can be reapplied; but it’s still a good idea to protect yourself with your choice of clothing and to limit your exposure to the sun, along with using the new sunscreens.
If you do get a sunburn, apply aloe vera liberally, and protect the area from further sun exposure. If your sunburn leaves you feeling nauseous, headachy, or in severe pain, see a doctor immediately.