What causes sunburn

If the skin is exposed to intense UV radiation for too long, sunburn occurs. This begins 3 to 24 hours after the damage with reddening of the skin. The result is swelling and pain.

Too late: the sunburn is there - acute stage.

The redness is caused by dilated blood vessels in the skin. Increased blood flow is the sign of a common inflammatory reaction. The affected area is better supplied with nutrients and cells of the immune system. After all, the damage in the skin cells needs to be repaired by the body.

From a medical point of view, sunburn (dermatitis solaris) is nothing more than a burn. Burns are classified into three grades according to their symptoms:
  • 1st degree burns painful reddening of the skin
  • 2nd degree burns Blistering
  • 3rd degree burns extensive destruction of the skin, possibly detachment of the epidermis in larger areas
3rd degree burns require hospital treatment. If you have a headache, nausea or fever, you should definitely consult a doctor.

The peak of the sunburn is reached after 24 to 36 hours. It slowly subsides after 48 to 72 hours and disappears after one to two weeks. If the skin has not peeled off, a tan and possibly light calluses remain.

This sunburn is almost gone.
But the long-term consequences cannot yet be foreseen.
© Mauritius

In our experiment you can test how different skin types cope with the sun. To try


If, despite all caution, a sunburn occurs, the first thing to do is to completely protect the skin from further sunlight. Applying lotion is no longer sufficient at this stage. The most sensible thing is to completely shield the affected areas of the skin from UV radiation. In practical terms, this means: You should go into the shade and cover the affected parts of the body, as UV radiation is also present in the shade due to reflection from the floor or objects.

Cooling compresses, lotions, or gels relieve symptoms and can help moisturize dry skin. In extreme cases, a pain reliever such as ibuprofen, which in higher doses also has an anti-inflammatory effect, can be used.
As with any burn, the body needs more fluid when it is sunburned, so you should drink plenty of fluids.