How Red is too Red

A man puts sunscreen on his shoulder at the beach.

Florida isn’t known as the sunshine state for its cloudy days. Late spring and early summer bring the greatest amount of ultraviolet rays, and with it comes pool parties, beach days, backyard barbeques and hours of fun in the sun. However, it can take as little as 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun to cause a sunburn or damage to your skin. A sunburn is a visible reaction of the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

There are two types of ultraviolet waves, UVA and UVB. Both penetrate the atmosphere and can cause premature aging, eye damage and extreme skin damage. UVA accounts for 95 percent of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. However, UVB is one of the primary causes of skin reddening and sunburn. Most UVB rays hit the Earth’s surface between 10am and 4pm from the beginning of April until the end of October.

There are various stages to sunburns. When sun first penetrates the skin, the melanin in your skin darkens to help protect the cell nuclei where your DNA resides. Depending on your complexion, you may have more or less melanin. The redness that is commonly associated with sunburn is the blood vessels dilating in the dermis, which is right below the outermost layer of skin. Depending on the extent of your exposure, you could experience redness, pain, inflammation or blisters.

First-degree burns are limited to the outermost layer of skin and can appear red, tender to the touch and will eventually result in light peeling of the skin. Second-degree burns appear with more prolonged exposure. These burns can appear as fluid-filled blisters, redness of the skin and pain. While sunburns can rarely present as third-degree burns, they’re characterized by full thickness damage on the outermost and deeper layers of the skin. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention.

First- and second-degree burns can be treated at home; however, it’s wise to seek medical attention, especially if your burn doesn’t improve within a few days.

Not sure about a burn? Getting the right care at the right place is just a few clicks away with HealthNav™. Tell us your symptoms and we can point you in the right direction. You may need to:

  • Visit the nearest ER
  • Go to an urgent care center
  • Chat with a doctor online
  • Make an appointment with a physician

Download HealthNav today and be ready for next time.

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