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How bad is getting a sunburn?

How bad is getting a sunburn?

This blog outlines what happens to your skin when it is exposed to too much sun and the potential longer term health consequences of sun overexposure.

Sunburn occurs when you damage your skin cells resulting from too much exposure to the sun. But it’s important to know that your skin doesn’t burn because of the heat, it’s the ultraviolet light emitted by the sun that causes the sunburn. Your skin reacts to this invasion of UV radiation by producing molecules to attract immune cells into the skin. This reaction results in the reddened skin, burning sensation and subsequent skin blistering that you experience.

A suntan is where your body (via special skin cells called melanocytes) releases melanin to darken your skin in an attempt to absorb more of the sun's rays. A suntan should not be seen as something to aspire to: this is your body telling you that it has had too much sun and it is trying to protect itself from more damage. You will hear medical professionals say that there is no such thing as a healthy tan.

A one-off sunburn can be an unfortunate mistake, but you should not make a habit of getting sunburnt regularly as this could have longer term health consequences. 

Sun damaged skin tends to feel dry and flaky compared to areas that have not been exposed. Dry skin is also a common cause of skin irritation. 

Over 80% of all skin ageing is due to sun exposure, so by exposing your skin to the sun unprotected you are ultimately accelerating the rate with which your skin ages. Over an extended period of time, you will look older than your biological age if you repeatedly overexpose yourself to the sun. 

Studies by Monash University have shown that Australian women age faster due to sun exposure. They found that they can look up to 20 years older than women in the US, Canada and UK with the same biological age due to the cumulative effects of sun exposure. So, if you want to have youthful skin, the best thing you can do is protect your skin from the sun. 

Around 90% of all skin cancers are due to sun exposure. WebMD have reported that women with light coloured skin who have been sunburnt more than 5 times between the age of 15 and 20 increase their chances of being diagnosed with melanoma by 80%. That is not a trivial increase. Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer.

There is some positive news, it is absolutely possible to enjoy the outdoors and be sun smart at the same time. Simple daily measures can prevent sunburn, slow down the process of skin ageing and greatly reduce the likelihood of being diagnosed with skin cancer

Dermatologists recommend a sun hat and UPF 50+ sun protective clothing as the best way to protect from the sun. When you are unable to cover your skin with a sun hat or protective clothing, it is advisable to use sunscreen with an SPF above 30.

You can find out more about Solbari's sun protective range by clicking the blue links below:

Women UPF 50+
Men UPF 50+

Sun hats UPF 50+
Accessories UPF 50+ 
SPF 50+ Sunscreen

This blog is for information purposes only, always consult your medical professional for expert advice.

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