As I was getting the kids ready for a day outside, they were patiently waiting for me to finish coating them in sunblock. One of them asks me how the sun can burn them if it is up in the sky.
My answer: Even though the sun is far, far away, you still see it’s light right? They nod in agreement. That light travels to Earth in rays. Those rays are invisible and are called ultraviolet radiation. These UV rays are what will burn you. Compare it to the heat coming off of food. Remember the steam you see coming off of your dinner? That tells you it is hot. If you put your hand close to the food, you can feel the heat. If you keep your hand near heat long enough, it will burn you. It is similar with the UV rays. They can burn you too. When you get burnt by the sun, your skin inflames and becomes red.
This can show up within 2-6 hours of exposure even though you can get burnt after 30 minutes out in the sun. If you get burnt enough, you can even experience chills on your body. Your skin will begin to peel within 4-7 days of being burnt.
When you get sunburn, the first thing you can do is get out of the sun and cover the exposed area. Stay hydrated and use aloe vera to soothe the irritated skin. Cool compresses can help as well as a cooled mixture of one part water and one part milk.
The first step actually begins at prevention. Use a sunblock at 30 SPF or higher. SPF is the Sun Protection Factor. It is a number on a scale that rates the degree of protection provided by the sunscreen. The SPF can range from 2 to 100 and it refers to the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s rays. Regardless of the myths out there stating that you can calculate the duration of the product’s effectiveness, there are many factors at play and you should just reapply often while out in the sun.