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Anyone who has ever been sunburned knows that the skin is red, itchy and can be painful. After a while, the skin begins to peel. So much for descriptions, but what is sunburn medically? Find out more about these questions and more, including how to prevent sunburn and how it can affect babies and children.

What is sunburn?

Sunburn is a skin condition that results from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays can damage skin cells, causing redness, pain, swelling, and sometimes blisters. Depending on the severity of the sunburn, symptoms may appear within hours or days after exposure to the sun.

There are three degrees of sunburn:

  1. I degree. It is a mild burn that causes redness of the skin and some pain. It usually heals in a few days, the skin may peel a little.
  2. II degree. This is a moderate burn that causes more pronounced redness, more pain and swelling. Blisters may occur. Healing may take a week or more.
  3. III degree. This is a severe burn characterized by deep tissue damage, large blisters and very painful skin. This degree of burn may require medical attention.

Symptoms. What can happen with sunburn?

Symptoms of sunburn vary depending on the degree of severity. Common symptoms include:

  • The skin is red and hot.
  • Pain or tingling of varying severity.
  • Swelling.
  • Dryness, peeling or flaking.
  • Headache, weakness, loss of consciousness and loss of appetite can occur due to dehydration.

In very severe cases, the following may occur:

  • Blisters, which can be small or large and filled with fluid.
  • General weakness, nausea or vomiting.
  • Severe skin inflammation and risk of infection.

If the sunburn is severe, it can cause long-term consequences , such as:


Severe sunburn can contribute to scarring, especially if blisters develop.

Increased risk of skin cancer

Frequent and severe sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma.

Skin aging

UV radiation increases the appearance of wrinkles, changes in pigmentation and loss of skin elasticity.

What helps with sunburn?

There are different ways to treat a sunburn, depending on its severity. The affected area should be cooled, for example using cold compresses or a lotion containing anti-inflammatory ingredients. If the skin is severely burned, you should consult a doctor for treatment.

What helps when the sunburn is not severe?

A mild sunburn is best treated with a cooling, moisturizing lotion or cream.

Sun protection is an important preventive measure

Sun protection is a very important preventive measure, not only to prevent sunburn, but also to reduce long-term skin health problems such as skin cancer, premature aging and pigmentation.

Sun cream

Use a sunscreen with a high protection factor (SPF 30 or higher). Cover the skin with cream 15-30 minutes before going outside and repeat every two hours or after bathing in a body of water.


Wear clothing that fully covers your arms and legs, made from natural fibers such as cotton or linen, which can help protect your skin from the sun's rays.


Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat that will protect your face, neck and ears.


Use sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection to protect your eyes and surrounding skin.


Try to stay in the shade, especially during the day when the sun's rays are at their strongest (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).


A mild sunburn is nothing to worry about and usually the skin heals without any problems. However, serious burns require medical attention. It is generally advisable to avoid frequent exposure to the sun and to use sunscreen. Babies and children especially need to be well protected from sunlight. It is worth noting that sunburn can also affect the eyes and damage the cornea. Be carefull!

Prepared from online sources.

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