What causes sunburn?
Sunburn is caused by excessive exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet light source. Sunburn occurs because the body is unable to make enough melanin (protective pigment in the skin) to protect the skin. Sunburn may occur in less than 15 minutes of sun exposure for light-skinned persons while it may take hours for a dark-skinned person to develop a sunburn. Unfortunately, the symptoms of sunburn do not begin until 2 to 4 hours after the sun's damage has been done. The peak
reaction of redness, pain, and swelling is not seen for 24 hours. Minor sunburn is a first-degree burn which turns the skin pink or red. Prolonged sun exposure can cause blistering and a second-degree burn. Sunburn never causes a third-degree burn or scarring.
Repeated sun exposure and suntans cause premature aging of the skin (wrinkling, sagging, and brown sunspots). Repeated sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer in the damaged area. Each blistering sunburn doubles the risk of developing malignant melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.
Sunburn is literally a burn on your skin. It is a burn from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The consequence of this burn is inflammation of the skin. Injury can start within 30 minutes of exposure. UVA and UVB refer to different wavelengths in the light spectrum. UVB is more damaging to the skin especially for skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB are responsible for photoaging (premature aging of the skin and wrinkles) and sunburn. Tanning beds produce both UVA and UVB rays. Certain light-skinned and fair-haired people are at greater risk of sunburn injury. Prior recent sun exposure and prior skin injury are risks for sunburn, even in limited exposure to the sun. However, normal limited exposure to UV radiation produces beneficial vitamin D in the skin.