Sunburn is a redness of the skin caused by its defeat by sunlight. The condition is caused by the action of the ultraviolet radiation spectrum and can develop not only when exposed to the sun, but also artificial sources of ultraviolet light. Sunburn is manifested by hyperemia of skin areas that have been exposed to radiation. The diagnosis is based on its symptoms and the connection of their occurrence with the fact of UV irradiation. Patients are advised to avoid further exposure to the sun and use sunscreens. To relieve painful sensations, cool lotions and baths are used, if necessary — dexpanthenol, antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs.
In dermatology, sunburn is classified as one of the types of actinic dermatitis, which also includes radiation dermatitis, persistent sunburn and solar dermatitis. The cause of sunburn is excessively prolonged and intense exposure to UV rays of sunlight or artificial sources (solarium, physiotherapy devices of the UVI). Moreover, skin damage by ultraviolet radiation of natural origin can develop not only in summer, but also in winter, when UV rays reflected from snow affect a person.
Most often, UV-ray damage is noted in owners of light and sensitive skin. In winter, they are observed among fans of winter sports: skiers, snowboarders, climbers, ice climbers, etc. The use of special oils and lotions for tanning and tanning can contribute to the occurrence of sunburn.
Sunburn usually develops within a few hours after exposure to sunlight. The skin of the exposed areas of the body, most exposed to ultraviolet radiation, becomes red and painful when touched. On the affected areas of the skin, discomfort, itching or burning may be noted of varying severity, which increases when wearing tight clothes, skin contact with the bed, etc.
The clinical picture of sunburn resembles a grade I burn. There may be some swelling of the affected area. There may be an increase in body temperature and a violation of general well-being. With a deeper lesion of the skin, thin-walled bubbles of various sizes appear on it, containing serous fluid. In the future, skin peeling and intensive exfoliation of the upper layer of the epidermis occur. The skin will “climb”, as it were, revealing lighter, not tanned areas under it.
Regular intensive UV irradiation of the skin with the development of sunburn can lead to the formation of age spots, freckles, hyperpigmentation. It contributes to the faster appearance of wrinkles, the development of photo-aging of the skin, increases the risk of melanoma and skin cancer.
As a separate disease, persistent sunburn is isolated, which occurs by the type of allergic contact dermatitis when using photosensitizing substances and persists for a long time outside skin contact with sunlight.
The first priority in the treatment of sunburn is to eliminate the effects of the sun on the affected areas of the skin. Patients should stay in the shade or use sun protection: thick cotton clothing, gloves, face masks, etc. It is recommended to take a cool shower or bath. Cold lotions are applied to the affected area. The surface of the affected area is treated with aerosols with dexpanthenol.
With a large lesion area and a violation of general well-being, sunburn may require contacting a dermatologist. With intense itching, the doctor prescribes antihistamines (chloropyramine, hifenadine), with severe edema and inflammatory skin reaction — anti-inflammatory drugs (naproxen, ibuprofen). Treatment of persistent sunburn is carried out with glucocorticoid ointments.
The most effective prevention of sunburn is the exclusion of excessive UV irradiation of the skin. It should be remembered that UV rays affect the skin even in cloudy weather and fog, as well as reflecting off water or snow. The lighter a person’s skin is, the more careful they should be. Clothing made of dense fabric (trousers, long skirts, long-sleeved shirts), wide-brimmed hats will help protect the skin. The skin around the eyes can be protected with large sunglasses.
It is necessary to sunbathe gradually, preferably in the morning and evening hours. Sunscreens are used to protect the skin from excess ultraviolet radiation. They should have protection at below SPF 15, and for people with fair skin — SPF 20 and above. It is recommended to apply such products 15-30 minutes before going out into the open sun and repeat the application after 1.5-2 hours.