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Why do I get sunburn, but not a tan?

Have you ever wondered why you only need five minutes in direct sunlight to turn a bright shade of pink, while your friend Anna can spend hours outside and end up at worst with a revitalizing glow?

Note, however, that both are signs of cellular damage to the skin.

However, we can answer this by looking at what sunburn is.

Sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the skin’s outermost layers. At the heart of it all is melanin, a pigment that gives your skin its color and defends it against the sun’s rays.

How does melanin work?

Melanin works by darkening your unprotected sun-exposed skin. The amount of melanin you produce is determined by genetics, which is why some people get sunburned while others tan. Both are signs of cellular damage to the skin, and for people with less melanin, prolonged unprotected sun exposure can cause skin cells to become red, swollen and painful, also known as sunburn. Sunburns can range from mild to blistering.

Some people are more prone to sunburn

Skin type determines your susceptibility; people with fair skin run the greatest risk. But anyone can get burned. Even without a burn, sun exposure raises skin cancer risk. Even if you are tan or your skin type is dark and your skin does not redden, the sun can cause cellular damage that can lead to cancer.

How sunburn damages your skin

Sunburn hurts you in more ways than one. The danger goes far beyond any short-term pain, redness and discomfort, because after the sunburn fades, lasting damage remains. Sunburn accelerates skin aging and is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinomasquamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

As you get older and have accumulated a lot of time in the sun, those freckles are only some of the damage you are able to see. Sun damaged skin can show up as actinic keratosis, wrinkles, spots, spider veins, a blotchy or ruddy complexion, and can even progress to skin cancer.

The UV index factor

The UV index is a factor: The sun varies in intensity by season, time of day and geographic location. A high UV index means that unprotected skin will burn faster or more severely. Be careful, especially when the sun is strongest. But even when the index is low, the risk remains.

Repeat sunburns put you at a substantial risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging, so you need to protect yourself every day of the year. Everybody must ‘learn from their burn’, your skin will heal, but the real damage has been done.

At Gentle Revive we understand you dermatological and personal requirements better than anybody else, if you’ve been burned one too many time and regret the outcome, let us discuss what options you might have, and which solution is best for you.

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/
  2. https://www.popsci.com/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

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