This month we are focusing on sunburn and how to avoid it.
Sunlight can help our mental outlook and help us feel healthier. For people suffering with arthritis, the warmth of the sun can help relieve some physical pain. However, sunlight can be harmful to the skin, causing not only immediate problems but problems that may develop years later.
Immediate problems include:
- Heatstroke - or other heat related illness
- Sunburn - caused by UV (ultraviolet) light
- Allergic reaction - to the sun's exposure or sunscreens
- Vision problems
This occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and continues to rise.
- Mental changes (confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness)
- Skin that is red, hot and dry, even under the axillae
Classic heatstroke can develop without exertion when a person is exposed to a hot environment and the body is unable to cool itself effectively. A person with heatstroke may stop sweating.
Exertional heatstroke may develop when a person is working or exercising in a hot environment. With this type of heatstroke a person may sweat profusely, but still produces more heat than it can lose.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, requiring emergency medical treatment.
Most times sunburns are first-degree burns of the outer layer of skin. These burns are mild and can be treated at home.
Skin that is red and that swells up and blisters indicates that it might be a second-degree burn. Most can also be treated at home unless more serious problems are present.
Sunburn symptoms can continue to worsen in the first 24 to 36 hours after the burn. Sunburns start to diminish over 3 - 5 days. Serious sunburns can be serious in babies, small children and the elderly because of their sensitive skin.
Allergic reactions following sun exposure:
- Swelling of the face
Sunscreens may cause skin irritations as well:
- Chemicals in the sunscreen may cause a skin rash
- Proteins in the skin can react with the sunscreen and cause a rash when exposed to the sun (phototoxicity)
- Reactions between skin proteins, sunscreen chemicals, and UV exposure can create substances in the bloodstream that causes allergic skin reaction (photoallergy)
In rare instances severe allergic reactions can cause breathing difficulties. Emergency care is needed for a reaction this severe.
SUNBURN and EYE PAIN or VISION PROBLEMS
Symptoms of vision problems from sun exposure may include:
- Partial or complete vision loss
- Burning pain
- A feeling that something is in your eye
- Decreased vision
- Photophobia (abnormal sensitivity to artificial or natural light)
The eyes are very sensitive to sunlight. Sunburning your eyes can damage the retinas or the lens which can eventually cause cataracts.
Snow blindness is a sunburn of the cornea. This occurs at high altitudes where the sun is more intense. Skiers, climbers and hikers should wear UV sunglasses with sidepanels to block out UV rays.
Problems with the retina can lead to impaired vision or blindness. Direct intense UV rays hitting the eyes over many years can cause cataracts which develop gradually and are one of the leading causes of blindness.
Sunglasses that block 99% or 100% of UV rays can protect against sun related eye problems. Labels that state UV absorption up to 400 nanometers provide 100% protection.
Have a Sun Safe May.