The days are getting longer and it’s hard to resist the sun. We’re outside more often, enjoying our favourite outdoor activities—cycling, walking, running, picnicking and so on.
Although it’s important to be outdoors and participate in fun and exercise, it’s equally essential to be aware of sun exposure. It’s a good time of year to talk about what happens to your skin when you get sunburned.
What is a sunburn?
Sunburns are damage or injury to the skin due to the sun’s radiation. How badly you become burned depends on several factors including how long you were exposed to the sun, location relative to the sun and the level of melanin in your skin.
Skin can also be damaged by UV light, which is a combination of various types of radiation, based on different wavelengths. Many wavelengths of UV rays damage skin, but do not result in a sunburn.
Melanin, or the pigment in your skin that determines the colour of your complexion, scatters and absorbs UV rays. The level of melanin in your skin determines how dark your skin tone is, which is why people with darker skin tones don’t get sunburned as frequently.
Does having a tan protect me from further sun damage?
Having a tan or darker skin does not provide protection from UV rays. It’s really important to know that melanin does not affect the absorption of UV lights, which is a crucial factor in skin cancer.
How can I avoid sunburn?
The answer is simple. Wear sunscreen and take other protective actions against the sun. Despite all the evidence, people still choose not to wear sunscreen.
A broadband sunscreen should be worn every day, all year round. That’s 365 days a year. It’s the most effective protection against the sun’s damaging rays.