A sunburn is a red, painful patch of skin that feels hot to the touch, and it commonly appears within a few hours after exposure to too much ultraviolet (UV) light. Sources of this light include the sun or artificial sources like sunlamps. Sunburns can take several days or even longer to clear up.
Regular sun exposure leading to sunburn increases the risk of skin damage and other skin diseases.
Repeated sun exposure leading to sunburn can increase the risk of several skin conditions:
- Premature skin ageing: Repeated sunburns can accelerate the skin’s ageing process, which makes you look older than you actually are. When caused by UV light, these changes are called photoageing, which can lead to weakening of skin strength and elasticity, deep wrinkles, dry or rough skin, fine red veins on the cheeks, nose and ears, freckles and dark or discoloured spots in various areas.
- Precancerous skin lesions: Appearing as rough, scaly patches in sun-damaged areas, these can be whitish, pink, tan or brown. These can evolve into cancer. Skin cancer: Even without a sunburn, excessive sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer and can damage the DNA of skin cells. Skin cancer mainly develops on areas of the body that are most exposed to sunlight, such as the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands and legs. If you notice a new skin growth, a discomforting change in skin, a change in the appearance or texture of a mole, or a sore that doesn’t heal, see your doctor.
- Eye damage: The sun can burn the eyes and even damage the retina, lens or cornea. Sun damage can lead to cataracts, or clouding of the eye.