How Sun Exposure Affects Your Skin, And What to Do 

From vacation to daily play, a sunny day brings the irresistible temptation to go outside and explore. The sun’s golden glow can boost your mood and help your skin produce Vitamin D. However, without proper cover through sunscreen and protective clothing, sun exposure also can present risks. Here’s what you need to know about sun exposure risks, sun damage and how to relieve the symptoms of sunburn with the right moisturizers.

What is Sunburn?

Sometimes, despite protective measures, you may experience a sunburn after exposure to sun. The sun can damage your skin through ultraviolet (UV) rays, known as UVA and UVB rays. UV rays can cause damage on sunny and cloudy days of any temperature, from sunburns to eye problems, premature aging, wrinkles, skin spots, and even skin cancer. The sun is not the only way you may
be exposed to UV rays—artificial simulators like sunlamps and tanning beds emit UV rays, too. When your skin is exposed to UV rays, it naturally tries to protect itself by producing more melanin (the dark pigment on the outer layer of skin). Extra melanin helps block UV rays and gives skin the darker hue often called a suntan. How much melanin you produce depends on genetics, which is part of why some people appear to tan more easily. While melanin helps blocks UV rays, it does not provide complete protection from the sun. Skin cells eventually become damaged from exposure and the outer layer of the skin burns.

How to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

Before heading outdoors, there are several ways you can protect your skin from sun exposure. Dermatologists recommend you make a plan for sun safety that includes shade (umbrella, tree or shelter), protective clothing (long sleeves and pants, dark colors, UV-resistant fabrics, and a hat and sunglasses) and sunscreen (at least SPF 15, applied every two hours). It’s also best to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.

What are the Symptoms of Sunburn?

Symptoms of sunburn typically begin about four hours after sun exposure and may include skin that:
● Appears pink or reddish
● Feels warm to the touch
● Causes pain, swelling, tenderness or itching
● May blister
● Is accompanied by headache, fever, nausea or fatigue

Sunburn may worsen over the first 24-36 hours, and resolve in 3-5 days as your skin works to shed and replace dead skin cells. To help reduce the symptoms, doctors recommend taking a pain-reliever/fever-reducer, drinking plenty of water to replace lost fluids, using cool baths or wet cloths to comfort burns, and avoiding the sun until the burn is resolved.

How Moisturizers Can Help Restore Dry Skin

Sunburn is the outward sign that your skin’s cells have been damaged by UV rays. However, the impact of sun exposure, particularly in causing dry skin and irritation, extends below skin’s surface layer (epidermis) to the more sensitive second layer of skin (dermis). When the epidermis is damaged, skin’s natural moisture barrier is weakened, allowing moisture to get out and irritants to get in to the dermis. With regular daily use, moisturizers can help replenish dry skin caused by sun damage and help restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Healthy, hydrated skin feels both softer and firmer, and often has less appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Which Moisturizers Are Best to Help Dry Skin?

Restoring skin’s moisture barrier is key to treating dry skin. As your skin heals, it’s important to follow a skincare routine that gently cleanses, deeply moisturizes and contains ceramides. If you have dry, sensitive skin, it’s best to use products with no added fragrances to avoid causing further irritation.
Many Curél® moisturizers deeply-hydrate skin without fragrance, including the light-weight, water-activated Curél® Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisture, the soothing Curél® Itch Defense® Lotion, the intensive and restorative Curél® Ultra Healing® Lotion, and the hypo-allergenic, non-greasy Curél® Fragrance Free Lotion. Each product is dermatologist tested and provides hydration where your dry skin needs it most.

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