How Long Does Sunburn Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 Days to a Week

The type of skin burn resulting from too much exposure to the sunlight. Repeated or continuous exposure elevates the risk of other conditions such as wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer. Symptoms include red, painful, itchy, or irritable skin that’s hot to the touch. The skin may also have blisters. Treatment includes pain relievers and lotions to relieve the irritation.

How Long Does Sunburn Last?

Type Of SunburnDuration
First-Degree Burn3 to 6 Days
Second-Degree Burn 7 to 21 Days
Third-Degree Burn >21 Days
Fourth-Degree Burn Unspecified; Depends on severity & surgery

Sunburn is an inflammatory condition of the skin when exposed to UVR or ultraviolet radiation. Many sunburns might cause the skin to peel off or blisters but, some might even be quite severe and painful, forcing the victim to stay in bed all day due to the discomfort. These troubling symptoms of a sunburn are the reason why it’s so important to put on sunscreen before spending extended time out in the sun.

First-Degree burns are the least harmful, also named superficial skin burns. This burn makes the skin red, dry, and painful when on touch. This is the most usual type of sunburn, heals within 3 to 6 days.

Second-Degree burns are known as superficial partial-thickness burns, affecting the top two layers of the skin. Painful when the temperature changes or if touched. One might see blisters appear on their burn, which holds and leaks fluid. Heals in 7 to 21 days and, the color of the affected area of the skin might be lighter or darker. Possibility of a scar.

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Third-Degree burns or deep partial-thickness burn is much deeper than any second-degree burn and is even more severe. This burn will give blisters and will take much longer to heal. This burn will give a scar if not heals in 21 days.

Fourth-Degree burns or full-thickness burns, treated mainly with surgery. It affects the skin and its layers, the fat and muscle tissues as well. This burn makes the skin turn into a distinct color, usually white, grey, or even black. This burn can induce critical long-term damage to the skin.

Why Does Sunburn Last That Long?

Sunburn symptoms might differ from redness as the body sends blood into small veins near the skin surface or peeling of the skin that gets rid of the damaged skin cells.
Someone does not necessarily need to go outside, exposed to the sun for a long time to get sunburned, and people can get a burn even on a less sunny day.

UV radiation from the sun is invisible to the naked eye, but UVA and UVB rays have visible damage when the skin gets burned. UVA rays are long-wave light that penetrates deeper and can cause damage over time whereas, UVB rays do not penetrate that deep but can damage the cells closer to the surface of the skin, turn it red, and cause a burn.

People may not apprehend that they have sunburn, as symptoms usually begin around 4 hours after the skin is out in the sun. Symptoms are the skin feeling the heat, might look reddish in appearance, and feeling very sore, which will usually worsen 24 to 36 hours after exposure to the sun.

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Pain is at its worst 6 to 48 hours after burning. If the skin shows peeling, it will usually happen 3 to 8 days after sun exposure. Sunburns can heal within days or weeks but the damage can have a much longer-lasting drawback.

Conclusion

It is crucial to treat burns properly, sooner as possible, so that the symptoms can reduce and speed up the recovery. If a mild sunburn, then put the burned area under cold running water and gently wash it with soap. Always advised to not apply any ice directly on the skin as it might cause frostbite or skin damage. Apply some aloe vera or an antibiotic emollient. One must stay away from the sun or cover the sunburned area if needed to go outside in the sun.

Make sure to apply 30 SPF+ sunscreen numerous times a day to protect the skin and avoid sunburns.

Reference

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190962281701038
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13187-018-1466-x
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