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All you Need to Know About Sunburns

by Stanli McHaney

The biggest factor of sunburns are ultraviolet rays (UV rays). There are three different kinds of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is of no use to talk about for sunburns because the ozone layer blocks all of it. UVA and UVB are the ones you should be worrying about. Although both are capable of giving you skin cancer if you’re not careful, UVA tends to penetrate deeper into your skin, causing premature skin aging and sometimes DNA damage. UVB, on the other hand, is what gives you a tan. Since UVB is the UV ray that affects the top layer of your skin, UVB is more likely to give you those lobster red sunburns and, if you’re not caring about your skin whatsoever, skin cancer.


So, how do you prevent them from getting to your skin? One of the simplest ways to do so is to wear at least sun protection factor (SPF) 30. We all have seen the aisles in the store with numbers ranging from 10 to 100. So, what’s the difference? If you apply a sunblock correctly that has a SPF of 30, it actually blocks 98% of UV rays, which, if you’re just going for a walk and not sweating too much, you should be good. The higher number you have the more it reflects the UV rays. Even though 100 SPF seems much higher than a SPF of 30, it really only offers one more percent of protection. So if you only have SPF 30 sunscreen, there is no need to freak out.
So, now you have a good idea what the SPF is and what you need. Let’s just say you went to the store to get some sunblock, and notice it says it’s meant for sports or for the beach. What is that supposed to mean? All it is saying is that it won’t come off as easily. You should still apply it every 3 hours though, despite what the packaging claims. You may also notice that the packaging may say “sunblock,” which is sometimes referred to as physical sunscreen, or “sunscreen,” which is sometimes referred to as chemical sunscreen. Sunblock, like the name hints, literally blocks the sun from hitting your skin at all. Sunscreen absorbs the harmful rays, but it filters the UV rays into harmless light and heat.
Let’s just say you were lazy and didn’t put on any sunscreen or didn’t apply it correctly, and you ended up with a sunburn. In your mind you called your parents over protective, but now you are the one who looks stupid. There are many ways to treat this, however, they might take some time for it to completely go away. Taking cold showers, or at least ending your shower with a cold rinse, will relieve the pain. After taking a cold shower, the best way to treat the sunburn is by applying lotion that contains aloe vera. This will help get rid of the sunburn, but if it is hurting too much, you can take some ibuprofen. Though not necessary, drinking plenty of water will speed up the healing process.


Now that you know how to stay safe in the sun, get your butt off that couch and go outside this summer! Thanks for reading this article, and hope you have a good week! 🙂 

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