What Happens To Your Skin When You Get a Sunburn?

Woman applying cream on sunburn at home, closeup Spending time outdoors can be invigorating, but too much sun exposure can lead to a painful sunburn. Sunburns are not just a temporary inconvenience; they can have long-lasting effects on your skin. For example, they can be a risk factor for skin cancer.

Understanding what happens to your skin when you get sunburns and knowing how to treat it effectively can help minimize damage.

Understanding Sunburns

A sunburn is caused when you expose your skin to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds. UV radiation breaks the DNA in your skin cells, causing an inflammatory response.

Initially, you might experience redness, pain, and swelling as your body’s immune system works to repair the damage. This redness is caused by an increase in blood flow to the affected area. This process is known as erythema.

At the cellular level, UV radiation can cause direct DNA mutations. It can increase the risk of skin cancer over time. The damaged cells produce and release signaling molecules called cytokines.

They can lead to inflammation and further immune responses. As the skin tries to heal, the outer layer may peel away, a process known as desquamation. This peeling helps remove damaged cells but can leave your skin vulnerable and sensitive.

Repeated sunburns accelerate skin aging, leading to wrinkles, fine lines, and a higher likelihood of developing skin conditions like actinic keratosis and melanoma.

Treating a sunburn involves soothing the skin and promoting healing. Start by cooling the affected area with cold compresses or a cool bath. Avoid hot showers or baths, as they can exacerbate the pain. Apply aloe vera gel or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation and moisturize the skin.

Schedule a Skin Cancer Screening in Irvine, CA

Understanding the impact of sunburn on your skin highlights the importance of sun protection. Regularly applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing can prevent its long-term effects.

To schedule a skin cancer screening, call First OC Dermatology and request an appointment. You can reach our Irvine, CA location at 949-679-9997 and our Fountain Valley, CA location at 714-531-2966.

Protect your skin today and enjoy healthier, more resilient skin in the future.


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