Crayfish complexion, ragged skin… How to avoid (or treat) a sunburn?

Grimace in front of the mirror, the tip of your nose has turned scarlet. You check from bottom to top if your epidermis has burned completely or only on the heads or tails side… You too are well aware of this feeling of “damage, too late” which is regular in this season.

Because if the sun is good for morale, it should be consumed with moderation and precaution. Especially during the summer, at certain latitudes and at certain times, if you don’t want to shred your burnt skin. How to protect yourself from painful and dangerous sunburn? 20 minutes gives you the good reflexes to have and the gestures to avoid.

Sunburn for Dummies

“After too long exposure to the sun, we see the appearance of redness, like a burn, which can be second degree with skin detachment, bubbles”, explains Marc Perrussel, dermatologist at the Rennes University Hospital Center. You just have to wait for the pain to pass… and for your skin to recover and the top layer to peel off.

What happened ? “Sunburn is a skin reaction to a burn by the UV B rays of the sun, sums up the dermatologist. While UV A rays are responsible for skin aging, UV B rays cause skin cancer. »

The main thing is said: not only do you risk spending several days not supporting the slightest garment on your reddened and sore shoulder, or not sleeping on your back, but in the longer term, you especially risk melanoma (cancer skin). Knowing that the most vulnerable – white skin that tans little, children and those who have burnt all their sun capital – must be extra vigilant. “In Australia, a study showed that children who had had more than three sunburns had a greater risk of developing adult melanoma,” continues the dermatologist. Hence the importance of protecting the youngest: “up to 2 years old, they absolutely must not be exposed. »

The good reflex

Good advice applies to all skin types. “Avoid solar noon, that is to say, do not go out between noon and 4 p.m., put on protective clothing and put cream regularly on the areas that cannot be protected, lists the dermatologist. But it’s not because we put on cream that we have the right to expose ourselves for four hours. This is only additional protection! “We would of course prefer to spread on every millimeter of his body (without forgetting the ears and asking for help for the back to avoid the “fingerprint” tan) a cream with an index 50 and no endocrine disruptors… ” And we paint each other every two hours. In France, it’s easy as a mnemonic device; I often tell my patients: “it’s every time you eat”.

Illustration of a beautiful sunburn… with the mark of the fingers. – Can go

Additional side to avoid sunburn, do not neglect certain situations. “We often think of the “toast attitude” on the beach, but less of protecting ourselves during meals on the terrace, at the market, on a hike”, continues the vice-president of the National Syndicate of Dermatologists-Venereologists (SNDV).

What if it’s too late? The dermatologist advises to “repair like a burn: we will put fatty substances, to rehydrate and restore the cells burned by the sun. You don’t have to invest in a specific cream, your day or night cream can be enough. If the damage is really significant, some patients can take anti-inflammatories, but only under medical supervision. »

The false good idea

Just because it’s not 40°C doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself. “You have to know that UV rays pass through clouds. In Brittany, on a walk under a leaden sky, you can also catch a sunburn. »

Another cliché to avoid: “When you’re under an umbrella, you’re not safe: the light is stopped, but the UV rays fall on the ground and bounce off,” warns the dermatologist. Hence special attention to the environment in which you will spend your holidays. “UV will reflect 35% on the snow, 30% on the sand, 15% on the sea and 5% on the grass”, continues our expert.

And it’s not just in the middle of winter, when skiing, that you always have to have your sunscreen on you. “The higher you go in altitude, the more the strength of the UV increases: at 2000 m, it’s as if you were getting closer to the Equator. Especially since UV B rays are dangerous during this summer period, because they are perpendicular in metropolitan France. Finally, the last “trick” that makes our expert jump, are UV cabins that “would prepare your skin for the sun”. “We consume and we damage our skin by exposing ourselves more to UV rays that are more harmful in the long term”.

It happened to them

Charlotte, 38, has agreed to tell us about her “big trauma” from sunburn. It was a weekend in June, when she was 10 years old. Time when she lived in Morocco, in Casablanca. “I was so burned at the beach that I couldn’t put on panties to go to school, the elastic hurt me too much! I see myself very well with my pajama bottoms, red shorts from the Waikiki brand, under my skirt. However, I have white skin, my mother never forgot to put sunscreen on me. But that day, the weather was cloudy, the parents had lots of friends on the beach, I spent my day in the water. In short, the ideal combo to burn. »

Hence the reminder from our dermatologist: the cream is essential, even when the weather is overcast… “It’s been almost thirty years, continues Charlotte. I still vividly remember that day and the pain the next day. Never again have I forgotten to put on cream…”

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