Sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to too much sun without the protection of clothing or sunscreen. Sunburn is the result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun damaging the skin because it cannot produce its defensive pigment, melanin, fast enough to protect itself from the damaging rays. Though it is more frequently seen in persons who have less pigment in their skin, even patients with darker skin tones can get sunburned.
Sunburn is a breakdown in the fundamental skin structure, leading to increased risk of long-term skin conditions such as premature wrinkles, dark spots, pre-cancers called actinic keratosis, as well as more serious problems like skin cancer. Before sun exposure, it is important to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UV rays penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, including clouds, which is why it’s important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.
For more information on Sun Protection from the AAD, please visit the
American Academy of Dermatology’s website.