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When Skin Burns - What Happens When You Get Too Many UV Rays

Adam Lawlor

Skin has a complex structure with many functions. Melanin are pigment molecules that protect the skin from ultraviolet rays (same use as carotenes in plants). The more melanin you have, the more protection you get from the sun. When skin is exposed to UV rays, melanin goes on the defense and redistributes to create a darkening of skin. If skin doesn’t have enough melanin to protect it, a burn occurs. A burn is DNA damage to the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) that creates numerous effects in order to heal.

  •  Skin turns red because the blood vessels in the dermis (the layer under the epidermis) dilate and blood flows to the area to send nourishment.

  • Melanocytes start working overtime to create melanin to protect your skin from further damage and this is how a burn turns into a tan (may take up to 3 days).

  • Areas become inflamed and painful as the body floods the area with blood to nourish and heal.

  • Damaged keratinocytes (skin cells) die and shed/peel off creating flakes. The cells located deeper in the epidermis are healed by enzymes but some can get missed and mutate leading to basal-cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Peeling occurs when skin is overproducing keratinocytes in the healing process.They don’t have the regular life cycle of 28 days and are shed together in a sheet.

  • Blistering means that you have severely damaged skin in the dermis and it’s considered a second-degree burn. The liquid that forms is meant to provide a soft, protective layer so that the dermis can heal. It is basically a separation of the epidermis and dermis.

My product recommendation for after sun care is Nordic Boost Hydrating Serum. It is made of several sources of polysaccharides, the gel like substance that retains moisture and allows skin to heal quickly. Most plants that have gel (aka mucilage) within them are considered healing. We use aloe vera, Icelandic moss, peat moss, polypody fern and hyaluronic acid to create this soothing hydration. I also recommend Touchy Feely Body Lotion to soothe and moisturize because it contains water, olive oil, lavender, and rosemary.


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