• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Sunburn On Face: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Jul 4, 2023

Sunburn is a common skin condition that occurs when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. While sunburn can affect any part of the body, the face is particularly vulnerable due to its constant exposure to the sun. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of sunburn on the face.

Causes of Sunburn on the Face:

1.Prolonged sun exposure: Spending extended periods in direct sunlight without adequate protection can lead to sunburn on the face. This can happen during outdoor activities, such as beach days, hiking, or prolonged sunbathing.

2.Lack of sun protection: Failing to apply sunscreen or using insufficient amounts can leave the skin on your face susceptible to sunburn. Additionally, not wearing protective clothing, hats, or sunglasses can increase the risk.

3.Intense sun exposure: The face is often the most exposed part of the body, receiving direct sunlight throughout the day. This constant exposure, especially during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), increases the likelihood of sunburn.

Symptoms of Sunburn on the Face:

1.Redness and inflammation: Sunburn on the face typically manifests as redness and inflammation. The affected areas may appear flushed or even develop a deeper shade of red, depending on the severity of the burn.

2.Pain and discomfort: Sunburned skin on the face can be tender, sore, and painful to the touch. It may feel hot or warm, and the discomfort can intensify with facial movements.

3.Swelling and blistering: Severe sunburn can lead to swelling and blister formation on the face. Blisters may be filled with clear fluid and can be painful or itchy. It’s important not to pop or pick at the blisters, as it can increase the risk of infection.

4.Peeling and itching: As the sunburn starts to heal, the affected skin may begin to peel. This peeling can be accompanied by itching, which can be alleviated with proper care and moisturization.

Treatments for Sunburn on the Face:

1.Cool compresses:

Apply cool, damp compresses to the affected areas of the face. This can help soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort.


Use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer to hydrate the sunburned skin on your face. Look for products that contain aloe vera or natural soothing ingredients to help calm and nourish the skin.

3.Stay hydrated:

Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Sunburn can deplete your body’s moisture levels, so staying hydrated will aid in the healing process and prevent further dehydration.

4.Over-the-counter pain relievers:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with sunburn. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult a healthcare professional if needed.

5.Avoid further sun exposure:

Protect your face from additional sun exposure while it heals. Stay indoors or seek shade, and if you must go outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher.

6.Do not pick or pop blisters:

If blisters develop on your face, refrain from picking, popping, or peeling them. This can increase the risk of infection and delay the healing process. Allow the blisters to heal naturally and protect them from further irritation.

7.Seek medical attention if necessary:

If your sunburn on the face is severe, covers a large area, is accompanied by high fever, severe pain, or shows signs of infection (pus, increased redness, warmth), it is advisable to seek medical attention for appropriate evaluation and treatment.

How To Prevent/Avoid Sunburn?

  • Whether you are out on a family picnic or just happen to enjoy traveling, make it a point to grab a hat along with you.
  • Remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. If that wasn’t self-explanatory, then slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat whenever you’re being exposed to the sun. Apart from that, seek shade whenever you can and slide on your sunglasses whenever you’re stepping out.
  • If you’re outdoors, try sitting in places with enough shade.
  • Wear sunscreen every time you step-out in the day and re-apply every two hours.
  • Avoid going under the sun during the hotter hours of the day (usually between 10 am – 2 pm in India).
  • Carry a pair of sunglasses.

How Much Damage Can A Really Bad Sunburn Do? Can One Sunburn Cause Skin Cancer?

Let the sunburn be for now. Even normal, day-to-day exposure to UV rays can damage your skin cells. This may also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Early exposure is usually the culprit of the development of skin cancer later in life. One study published by the American Academy of Dermatology stated that women who experience 4-5 bad sunburns when they are between 15-20 years old are at a higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer.

One bad sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancer later on in your lifetime.

Will Your Sunburn Eventually Turn Into A Tan?

Let’s get this straight – both, sunburns and tans are bad for your skin. They indicate DNA damage.

Your sunburn will not turn into a tan. It will fade away on its own or with treatment. However, you may notice a tan post your sunburn. This is because UVB rays are responsible for both sunburns and tans. Yet, it is not your sunburn that decided to change into the brown, pigmented glow you were looking for.

Why Does This Happen?

Delayed pigment darkening is responsible for this activity. This process usually starts 2-3 days post the development of a sunburn. When your body is exposed to the sun, it produces excess melanin (the same pigment responsible for the color of your skin). This is done in order to protect your skin from UV damage. This is why you may notice this change in skin color, post the healing of your sunburn.

Prevention is the key to avoiding sunburn on the face. Protect your skin by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and limiting sun exposure during peak hours. Remember that sunburn can occur even on cloudy days, so it’s important to prioritize sun protection consistently.

By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and taking prompt measures to treat sunburn on the face, you can help minimize discomfort and support the healing process. Take care of your skin and enjoy the sun responsibly to maintain a healthy and radiant complexion.

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