A Kid’s Guide to Sunburns

It is important that all people are exposed to the some sun. After all, the sun provides us with Vitamin D, which helps to keep us happy and healthy. But after a day in the sun, getting burned by the UV rays is no fun. If you spend too much time outdoors without the proper protection, you run the risk of being sunburned. By following a few simple sun safety guidelines, you can better prevent a sunburn the next time you are outside soaking up some rays. See what you can do to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe from harmful UV rays that can cause skin damage.

What Causes Sunburns

The sun gives off ultra-violet rays that cause our skin to tan or burn. There are three types of rays that come off of the sun: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVA rays can cause your skin to age and wrinkle, and have been linked to causing skin cancer. These rays cut right through the protective layer of Earth’s atmosphere, the ozone layer, and are the rays that make up most of our exposure to the sun. Similarly, UVB rays are the rays that cause sunburns. They can also affect your immune system and your eyeballs negatively. Fortunately, most of the UVB rays from the sun are absorbed by the ozone layer, but some can still get through and cause damage to our skin. Finally, UVC rays are the most dangerous rays the sun gives off, but the atmosphere keeps us safe from the damage they can cause.

How Sunburns Affect Our Bodies

When our skin is burned, our skin cells become damaged. Our skin, the largest organ on our bodies, reacts to this damage by sending extra blood to the damaged cells in an effort to repair them. This is why our skin turns red when we get burned. Sunburns are different for everyone. How the UV rays affect our bodies is determined by the amount of time you are in the sun, as well as the type of skin that you have. People with darker shades of skin do not burn as easily, and can spend more time in the sun, while other, fairer skin types can spend less time in the sun, as burning can occur very quickly on their light skin.

The Long-term Effects of Sunburns

A very bad sunburn can have lasting negative effects on the skin. UV rays can cause the skin to age prematurely, making it look wrinkly or sagged. This can also cause the skin to lose pigment and look dull. In the worst cases, damaged skin cells can lead to spots on the skin, which is a sign of skin cancer. Cancer of the skin is the worst side effect of sunburn, making it paramount to always wear protection when exposing yourself to UV rays. Melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer, can spread to other organs of the body and cause damage in other places. Most of the time, when the disease spreads, it is deadly.

What We Can Do To Prevent Sunburns

One of the best ways to avoid getting too much sun exposure is to wear sunscreen. The SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, determines how much protection you are getting. The higher the SPF, the more protection from the UV rays. It is important to remember to apply sunscreen prior to going out into the sun and letting it soak into the skin for at least 30 minutes. It is also important to reapply the sunscreen every hour, particularly if you are swimming in water or sweating a lot. Be mindful that even on cloudy days, the UV rays are still shining through. They can cause damage to your skin, even if you cannot see the sun. In addition to applying sunscreen, try to keep yourself in the shade when possible. Sun exposure is good for you, but too much of it can do a lot of serious damage. Take refuge under the shade of an umbrella on the beach or under a tree in the park to give your skin a break every once and a while.