Do You Know What Really Causes That Sunburn?

So that's why we turn red!

As the hottest summer on record continues on rage on, many of us know the all-too-painful feeling of having spent too much time outside without enough sunscreen, resulting in that tight, aching, bright red skin we know as a sunburn. A few days later, we get the disgusting-yet-oddly-satisfying (hey, don't judge me) task of pulling sheets of dead skin off of our bodies.

Aside from being annoying for a week, getting sunburns dramatically increases the odds of getting skin cancer. In order to understand why that is, we need to know what actually happens when we get a sunburn.


It might seem like sunburns happen the same way regular burns do, and the redness and flakiness is a byproduct of our skin being "cooked" by the heat of the sun. As Anna Rothschild of Gross Science explains in her latest video, the truth is so much stranger than that.

The ultraviolet (UV) radiation that causes sunburns doesn't actually heat us up at all. Instead, it affects on a deep, cellular level, and our bodies have a really strange way of responding to it. 

Learn the surprising thing that actually makes our skin turn hot and red here:

So what's the best way to deal with a sunburn?

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can reduce the pain of a sunburn with some regular ibuprofen. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and applying moisturizers like aloe to make the healing process go a little easier.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure to prevent sunburns in the first place by applying sunscreen before heading outside!

Cover image: Shutterstock

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