Why Do We Get Sunburned?
Sunburn is the result of over-exposure to sunlight, which causes heat and light damage to the skin. Ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrate the surface of our skin. This causes certain substances in the living cells to produce toxic by-products that can poison or irritate the surrounding tissues.
The most obvious change is a reddening of the skin. The redness is produced by an increase in the amount of blood in the millions of tiny blood vessels in the exposed skin. Sunburn can be prevented by applying a sunscreen to the skin or by gradual exposure to the sun.
Minor sunburns typically cause nothing more than slight redness and tenderness to the affected areas. In more serious cases, blistering can occur. Extreme sunburns can be painful to the point of debilitation and may require hospital care.
Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes, and in seconds when exposed to sources of intense ultraviolet light. Nevertheless, the inflicted harm is often not immediately obvious.
After the exposure, skin may turn red in as little as 30 minutes but most often takes 2 to 6 hours. Pain is usually most extreme 6 to 48 hours after exposure. The burn continues to develop for 1 to 3 days, occasionally followed by peeling skin in 3 to 8 days. Some peeling and itching may continue for several weeks.