Sunburn is an acute cutaneous inflammatory reaction that follows excessive exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation, primarily UVB. Sunburn depends on both your skin type - which determines your likelihood to burn or tan - and the amount of UVB exposure you receive.
Skin types range from Type I to Type VI in a classification developed by Fitzpatrick and Pathak in 1975. You can identify your skin type according to the calssification mentioned based on whether you burn and/or tan after an hour in the midday sun at the start of summer. Once you know your skin type, the classification data then shows how many minutes before your skin will redden (without protection) when the UV Index is 6 or 8 or 10.
The people most at risk of getting sunburn are children and those with fair or freckly skin and ginger hair. However anyone can get burnt. Some medicines can also make you more sensitive to the sun, such as certain antibiotics, tranquillisers, antifungal agents, the contraceptive Pill and diuretics. If you think your medicine might be making you more sensitive to the sun ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.
Getting sunburned is bad enough, but what you may not know is that a sunburn continues to develop for 12 to 24 hours after the initial burn takes place. Treat a sunburn the way you would treat any other burn. Apply a soothing compress dipped in cold water, cold skimmed milk or witch hazel. Cold plain yoghurt is also cooling and soothing. Apply to all sunburn areas then rinse off in a cool shower. A cool bath can also help ease the pain. Afterwards, pat the skin dry with a clean towel but do not rub the skin as you will make it worse. Soapy water or a bubble bath can irritate burnt skin. Moisturise your skin (for example with aqueous cream or E45) after a soak or compress as your skin will probably be quite dry after being sunburnt. Research has shown that aloe vera extract applied to a burn helps soothe the area and may help the sunburn treatment. lcepacks can also help if the burn is mild. An ideal icepack is a bag of frozen peas in a damp cloth held on the area for 15 minutes at a time while tea bags soaked in cool water and applied to eyelids will help reduce swelling and pain. Aspirin (300mg) or ibuprofen (200mg) can also help relieve the pain, itching, and swelling of sunburn. Take two tablets every four to six hours. Drink plenty of fluids - especially water - to counteract the drying effects of the sunburn.
Sunless tanning products are simply the safest way to achieve a tan and are definitely the best alternative for those who burn easily. You may want to try several sunless tanning products to see which one works best with your own skin and coloring.
The better quality self tanning products whether in cream, gel or spray form are made with the same active ingredient which stimulates pigment in the skin rather than dying it. These better quality products offer a natural looking tan, not orangey, that is more complimentary to your own coloring. Opt for a product that is hypoallergenic and also acts as a moisturizer. These products won't block pores or irritate sensitive skin.