Sunburns are characterized by inflamed, painful skin. The issue occurs when skin cells get damaged by ultraviolet radiation. At the root of this issue is melanin, the pigment that naturally protects your exposed skin in addition to giving it its color. The amount of melanin that people produce is largely determined by some genetic factors, which explains why some people are more prone to sunburns than others. Sunburns usually affect people who produce less melanin than those who produce more. If you are prone to sunburns, there are several steps you can take to protect your skin, one of the most important ones being wearing sunscreens. But what is sunscreen, and how effective is it in preventing sunburns?
What Is Sunscreen and How Does it Work?
Sunscreen is a lotion or cream rubbed onto the surface of the skin to protect the skin from dangerous radiation from the sun. In addition to helping you prevent sunburns, wearing sunscreens will significantly reduce your risk of getting skin cancer and premature skin aging. How sunscreen works depend on its active ingredients. To understand how sunscreens work, you need to understand what their active ingredients do. For instance, physical ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work by blocking and scattering UV rays to ensure they do not penetrate your skin. On the other hand, chemical ingredients such as octisalate and avobenzone work by absorbing UV rays before they can damage your skin cells.
How Effective is Sunscreen in Preventing Sunburns?
Sunscreen is known to be highly effective in preventing sunburns. The effectiveness of sunscreens in this regard largely depends on the proportion of UVB rays they can filter. For instance, a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 will filter up to 97% UVB radiation, while a sunscreen with SFP 15 might filter about 93% of UVB radiation. In a nutshell, wearing sunscreen will go a long way in helping you minimize your skin's exposure to the UVB rays known to cause sunburns.
Is Sunscreen Alone Enough?
Although wearing sunscreens is an important step you can take towards protecting your skin from damage that might be caused by UV radiation, it should be seen as a part of a bigger sun protection strategy. In other words, wearing sunscreens will not give you full protection, and therefore, there are several other steps you will have to take to keep your skin protected. For instance, you will need to make deliberate decisions to wear clothes that cover your skin adequately and look for shade when possible. You will also need to avoid the 10 AM to 4 PM sun and wear a hat with a wide brim. By taking these extra steps, you will make your sunscreen more effective and consequently keep your skin safe and young-looking.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the UV radiations from the sun have the potential to cause severe damage to your skin cells and lead to sunburns. While wearing sunscreen can offer some protection, your sun protection strategy should be much wider. This is because although sunscreen is highly effective in blocking dangerous radiation, it has some limitations, meaning that you will need to think of other solutions to complement it.
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