What is Sunburn | Reason Behind Sunburn

Most of us like to sit under the Sun just because it feels nice but we forget that excess of everything is bad. Sometimes, even little exposure of the skin under the Sun can make a reaction if the skin is too sensitive.

The first question we must ponder upon is what is sunburn? In very general terms, sunburn occurs when the living tissue, like the skin, is affected by the overexposure of the uncovered skin in the ultraviolet (UV) radiation which results in radiation burns. It causes damage to the DNA cells. Generally one experiences painful rashes, peeling or blistering of the skin.

The 3 types of UV rays are: UVA, UVB, UVC. Out of these three, UVC does not reach the surface of the Earth. However, UVA and UVB are so strong that they not only reach the Earth but can even penetrate deep into our skin. You must have seen that not everyone is prone to sunburn. The reason behind sunburn is that it depends on the skin’s intensity, your skin type, and the amount of time you are exposed under the Sun.

But, how is sunburn caused? Let’s learn about the reason behind sunburn in detail below.

How Is Sunburn Caused

Our body has a natural sunscreen called melanin which is produced by our skin cells called melanocytes. It protects our skin from getting damaged. The moment our body becomes aware of the Sun affecting our skin cells, it starts sending melanin to the cells surrounding the cells getting damaged in order to protect them from getting more damaged. The amount of melanin produced is almost the same in everyone. What differs is the color of melanin produced. Even people with dark skin can get sunburn if their skin is over-exposed in the Sun. Undoubtedly, people with dark skin are safer from the damage which can be caused by the ultraviolet rays.

The UV photon damages the skin by breaking the bonds between nucleotides, adenosine, thymine, and guanine. The thymine dimmer is formed when 2 thymine nucleotides are bonded together and the shape of the DNA molecule is thrown out. This is when the cell with a messed-up DNA commits suicide (the process is called apoptosis).

When the destruction is sensed by the body, it starts sending blood to the damaged area in order to heal. When the body is unable to fight the damage, the effects of sunburn start getting visible on the skin. This is how sunburn is caused.

When the sunburn is way too bad, i.e. thermal damage is caused, skin blisters are formed which have protective bubbles filled with liquid formed on the tissue damaged area. After a couple of days, the dead cells in the damaged area start to peel off. Sometimes, the UV light causes random damages which make the cells become cancerous as the change in their DNA makes them avoid dying.

We hope that you now understand the reason behind sunburn. Let us know about some safety tips now.

Protection Measures for Sunburn

In many cases, you will be able to cure the sunburn by yourself but if you notice fever higher than 101 degrees, dry mouth, severe pain, dizziness, dehydration, then you must consult a doctor. When you realize that you are suffering from sunburn, i.e. when your skin turns pink or changes its color, more than half the damage is already done and it can cause wrinkles or even lead to skin cancer. It is, therefore, important to apply sunscreen on all the exposed areas of the body while you are going out.