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How the Sun Burns Your Skin

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The sun burns the skin unless we have applied a sunscreen or we have developed a gradual tan. Most people that are fair complected don’t tan easily and the sun burns their sensitive skin. Most people with blond, red or light brown hair have fair skin; they have to take special precautions not to burn.

In order to understand how the sun burns the skin you must look at the skin. What is the skin? It’s an organ just like your liver and heart. The skin is an organ, and it is what makes up the integumentary system. This organ (skin) has a design and function that has many purposes. One function is to act something like a rain coat. The skin is a boundary that keeps everything on the inside of the body where it is supposed to be, and keeps everything on the outside from getting in. The skin communicates with the environment. When you feel cold it is because the nerve receptors in the skin let you feel it. You then know to get out of the cold or put on a jacket.

When you are exposed to the sun for long periods the skin reacts to ultraviolet light. The sun burns the skin because a condition known as erythema develops 6 to 8 hours after exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. The pain of the sunburn is caused by the body’s reaction to the skin damage caused by the ultraviolet rays. The redness associated with sunburn is the erythematic response; this inflammatory process damages the DNA of the skin’s cells caused by UVB radiation. The body responds to the damage by sending blood to the damaged area to start the repair work. The extra blood at the surface of the damaged area causes the heat you feel from the burn.

Everyone going out into the sun should use sunscreen to protect their skin from UVB rays. The sun burns the skin in as short a time as 15 to 20 minutes of exposure for some fair complected people. If you are safe from burning for 15 minutes of exposure without any protection, then a sunscreen with the SPF (sun protection factor) will protect you 10 times that long. You will be protected for 150 minutes of exposure to UVB rays. Always apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going into the sun or into the water. The sunscreen needs to have a chance to absorb into the skin. If you go out too soon after application of sunscreen, it could wash off with perspiration or from going swimming. The sun burns the skin if the sunscreen does not bind with the skin and washes off. You will have wasted your time of applying it if you do not wait long enough for the sunscreen to set. It is recommended to re-apply sunscreen periodically. The sun burns the skin if the layer of protection has started to wash off. To avoid being a casualty of when the sun burns, follow the directions on the bottle of sunscreen.




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