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Sunburn: Causes, symptoms and homemade sunburn remedies

Sunburn - causes, symptoms and homemade sunburn remedies

We know how harmful the sun is, especially in summer. It can be hazardous for our skin and health and that’s why we should protect ourselves from it. But when the time for the summer holiday comes, thousands of people forget to protect their skin from the sun, and they often face the problem called sunburn.

Sunburn - causes, symptoms and homemade sunburn remedies

What causes sunburn

Sunburn appears as a result of long exposure to sunlight, more precisely to UV-rays. UV rays can be UVA, UVB and UVC. Only UVA and UVB rays can reach the earth’s surface. The popular tanning beds also produce UV light that can cause sunburn if you’re exposed too much and too often. When exposed to UV light, the skin rapidly produces protective pigment called melanin. This pigment blocks the UV rays in order to prevent sunburn.

The additional amount of melanin is actually the reason why you are getting a tan when you sunbathe. But the body can’t produce unlimited quantities of melanin. The melanin produced in your body depends on your genes. Too much exposure to the sun, causes the skin to ‘burn’. The burned skin becomes sensitive to the touch and it hurts, and also becomes red and in some cases there are blisters (‘bubbles’ filled with ‘water’).

Don’t fool yourself that only direct exposure to sunlight can cause sunburn. You can ‘burn’ even when the weather is cloudy, because nearly 90% of the sun’s rays can penetrate through the clouds.

Symptoms of a sunburn

Every part of your body can get sunburn. Even the lips, ears and scalp can suffer from the overexposure to the sun. The first symptoms of sunburn occur within 4-7 hours after sunbathing, but the maximum damage on the skin from the sun can be seen 24-48 hours after sun exposure.

Symptoms of minor sunburn

  • Pink or red skin
  • Sensitivity of touch, pain
  • The skin feels very hot

Symptoms of serious cases of sunburn

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Blistering skin
  • Nausea and vomiting

Several days later the skin starts to peel. This way the body actually gets rid of the damaged skin.

When the sun causes the worst damage

There are several factors that can increase the damage of the sun

Skin color

People with lighter skin often get sunburn. That is because people with dark complexion have more melanin, which protects the skin from the sun.


Age affects how your skin responds to sun exposure. The skin in young children and older people (aged 60+) is more sensitive to sunlight.

Time period of the day

The greatest likelihood that you will get sunburned is between 10 am to 4 pm because the sun’s rays are strongest in that period of the day.


You’ve probably noticed that when you are by the sea or lake of your skin turns red faster than when you walk through the city. This is because the large surface of water reflects the sun’s rays. If you are near a large surface of water, white sand, ice or snow, the chance that you will get sunburn is bigger.


With increased altitude, the exposure to UV rays increases. The higher you are, the more SPF protection you should use.

UV index

The index of UV radiation is changing every day and it is highest in the summer days. The higher the index, the greater the likelihood that you will get sunburn if you are exposed to sunlight without protection.

How to help yourself – homemade sunburn remedies

If you’ve got sunburn, you can do very little in order to prevent the skin damage, but you can do a couple thing at home that can help you to ease the symptoms.

Homemade sunburn remedy: Cold shower

Take a lukewarm or cold shower quite often. That way you will feel better, because it will reduce pain and cool the skin.

Homemade sunburn remedy: Cold compresses

Take a clean towel, soak it in cold water and place it on the affected skin area.

Homemade sunburn remedy: Aloe Vera Gel

Apply aloe vera gel on your burned skin. If you happen to find an aloe vera plant, cut the leaf in half and take the gel. Apply the gel on the burned skin.

Homemade sunburn remedy: Yogurt

The cold yogurt will help you to ease the symptoms such as redness and pain. Take some plain yogurt and apply it on your skin. It will cool and moisturize the skin.

Consume plenty of fluids

Staying for too long in the sunlight can easily cause dehydration. Headaches and thirst are signs that the body is dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids so your body can continue to function normally.

Careful with the blisters

Don’t pop the blisters on your skin. Popping the blisters will only slow the healing process, and will increase the risk of bacterial infection. If the blisters are rubbing from your clothes, you can protect yourself using a band-aid. When the blister pops, it is best to apply an antibacterial cream. If the blisters take a large area of your body, accompanied by the appearance of high fever, dizziness and nausea or vomiting, see a doctor.

If home treatments doesn’t help the situation and your condition do not improve, don’t wait too long and ask for help from your doctor. It is really easy to forget to apply a cream with SPF while having fun in the water, but it should be your priority in the summer days, to prevent sunburn and red and painful skin.

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