If the redness of your skin caused by sunburns is a reversible process, wit the skin regaining its color within a few days, there are irreversible effects that such burns have on the skin, so sun protection is very important.
Sunburn is caused by skin exposure to UV radiation without using an SPF lotion or clothing to block the radiation that you come into direct contact with. There are two types of solar rays: UVA and UVB rays – both are damaging to the skin, but only UVA rays cause sunburn, destroying the skin’s protective layer by killing cells in the epidermis.
When the skin is red and inflamed, the damage has already been done, and the DNA of the skin cells has already been affected by the radiation. The DNA affected by the solar radiation will never be completely repaired, the damage caused by the radiation being, in most cases, irreversible.
The effects of sunburn on the skin
Premature aging – studies done over the last few years have confirmed that in 80% of the cases, exposure to UV rays is the culprit for premature aging of the skin. The more sunburn you get because you don’t protect yourself as you should, the sooner you will see the signs of aging on your skin. UV radiation destroys collagen and elastin, which are essential in keeping the skin firm and soft despite aging.
Pigmentation spots – pigmentation spots often occur due to repeated sunburn in the skin. These occur after the excessive production of melanin in certain skin areas, as melanin is the skin pigment used to protect against UV radiation. Unlike a regular sunburn, which occurs immediately after exposure to the sun, pigmentation spots occur after repeated sunburns. Hyperpigmentation generally occurs in the areas most exposed to solar radiation such as face, back, or hands.
In happier cases, pigment spots may disappear in time, but in some situations they disappear only through more complex processes such as chemical peeling or laser therapy.
Increasing the risk of skin cancer – another effect that sunburn has in the long run is increasing the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Once skin DNA is affected by UV radiation, it can no longer be repaired, the effects being irreversible.
Since the effects of solar radiation on the structure of DNA are irreversible, sun protection should be a priority when we expose our skin to UV radiation. UV protection lotions and avoiding staying directly under the sun during the hottest hours are safe ways to prevent sunburns.
Any portion of the skin may suffer sunburns, even those that are covered with clothing – if the fabrics are thin enough and allow the penetration of UV radiation. Your eyes are also at risk of sunburn. It is important to keep in mind that clouds only block 20% of the UV radiation, which means you can get sunburns even on cloudy days.