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Why Do Sunburns Feel Warm

When you’re exposed to UV radiation, your skin responds by creating a new pigment called melanin that acts as a natural sunscreen. Unfortunately, this response doesn’t come fast enough to protect your skin from UV radiation and the damage that it causes. We all know that the burning sensation of sunburn is not pleasant, but why does it feel so warm? The answer lies in our body’s reaction to the injury caused by UV rays. The redness and warmth you experience when you get sunburnt is a direct result of your body’s inflammatory response. This article explains why sunburn feels warm and what you can do to prevent or ease its symptoms.

Why Do Sunburns Feel Warm?

The reason why sunburns feel warm is due to the inflammation that occurs at the site of the sunburn. When you have a sunburn, your skin becomes red and inflamed. This is your body’s way of reacting to damage caused by UV light. The increased blood flow to the area causes your skin temperature to rise, which leads to a feeling of warmth.  If you have a sunburn, try to avoid heat sources such as hot showers and baths as this may make your body temperature rise even more.

What Causes The Warm Feeling In A Sunburn?

1. You Are Dehydrated

One of the first things that happen when your skin is exposed to excessive UV radiation is dehydration. This is because UV causes your blood vessels to dilate, which causes extra fluid to flow out of your tissues. One of the main functions of blood is to carry nutrients to your tissues, including your skin. This is why when you get dehydrated, your skin ends up looking dull, tired, and less vibrant. Now, getting sunburned doesn’t mean that you will get so severely dehydrated that you’ll die, but it does mean that your skin will take longer to heal. This is because it needs more nutrients to repair itself.

2. Uv Radiation Irritates Your Skin

As if that weren’t bad enough, your skin will also start to become inflamed. This is because UV radiation activates your immune system. When this happens, you’re skin releases inflammatory mediators like histamine, cytokines, and bradykinin. They’re basically signaling molecules that cause blood vessels to dilate, your capillaries to leak, and your immune cells to rush to the site. In this case, the inflammation is happening in your skin, so you’ll actually be able to feel it—as opposed to say, your liver, where you wouldn’t be able to feel it. When your skin is irritated, it feels warm. This is because the blood vessels in your skin dilate in order to bring more nutrients to the affected area. This can result in a raised, warm feeling, especially on your face.

3. Capsaicin Reception

Capsaicin is the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy. It’s also found in many creams designed to soothe the pain. Interestingly, capsaicinoids are known to interact with the nerves that detect heat. This means that if you put a capsaicin cream on your sunburned skin, it will actually temporarily reduce the amount of heat you feel. This is because capsaicin fools your body into thinking it’s cooler than it actually is. It doesn’t alleviate the swelling or inflammation, but it will temporarily reduce the amount of heat you feel.

4. Burning Tissue Feels Hot

By this point, your skin has already suffered significant cellular damage. In fact, the pain of a sunburn is caused by the dying of your skin cells. When a skin cell is exposed to UV radiation, it basically goes into self-destruct mode. It becomes highly reactive and then breaks down into compounds that are harmful to the rest of your tissues. This cellular death releases compounds called cytochrome c oxidases, or COx. COx actually feels hotter than healthy tissue. That’s why touching a sunburned area actually feels hotter than the rest of your skin.

5. Sunburned Skin Regeneration Is Hot By Default

As your skin heals from the damage that the sun caused, it will actually grow new cells. During the regeneration process, your body will generate a lot of heat. This is why you sometimes see people’s skin look red-orange or even pink after a sunburn. It’s a result of all the excess heat that’s generated as your body repairs itself. This is also why it might feel like your skin is burning.

Tips To Heal A Sunburn? 

  • If you get sunburnt, there are a number of things you can do to ease the symptoms and speed up healing. These tips include:
  • Drinking plenty of water. This will help flush out the toxins in your body and maintain hydration levels.
  • Removing the source of the UV radiation. If you know your skin is susceptible to burning, avoid being outside during peak sunlight hours. If you don’t have any other choice, wear sunscreen with a high SPF rating to shield your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • However, if you have fair skin, even a high SPF sunscreen might not be enough to prevent sunburn. In that case, cover up as much as possible by wearing long sleeves and pants while going outside during peak sunlight hours. Also, consider staying indoors during this time if possible or avoiding outdoor activities that expose your skin to UV radiation completely.
  • If you get sunburnt, there are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms. stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. When you’re feeling unwell, your body craves fluids to help it feel better. Make sure you get enough water to flush out all the toxins your body is releasing. 
  • When you get sunburnt, your body releases extra fluid to help your skin repair itself. This makes you feel bloated and sluggish. By hydrating your body, you can reduce swelling and bloating. In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can also try cooling your body down. Taking a cold shower or placing a cold compress on your sunburnt will help relieve the swelling and make you feel better.

How To Prevent Sunburn? 

  1. The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid the sun altogether. Sunscreen is also a good way to protect your skin from UV radiation. However, if you can’t avoid the sun or don’t have sunscreen handy, you can still protect your skin by covering it up with clothing and wearing a hat. This will block some of the UV radiation from reaching your skin and help prevent sunburn.
  2. The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid the sun. If you can’t avoid it, make sure you use sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from UV radiation by reflecting or absorbing the radiation before it reaches your skin. Different creams have different SPF ratings that indicate how well they protect your skin from UV radiation. If you’re going out in direct sunlight, always make sure you have sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher on your skin. You should apply a generous amount of sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply regularly throughout the day. Sunscreen can wear off and get rubbed off over time, so make sure you keep reapplying it every few hours to keep yourself protected.
  3. The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid direct exposure to the sun during peak hours. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 2 pm, so either avoid being outside then or wear plenty of sunscreens. For maximum protection, you should use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. You should also apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside to let it sink into your skin and become effective. 
  4. To find the best sunscreen for you, first determine your skin type. You can do this by looking at your skin and checking for freckles or moles. If you have fair skin, you have a higher chance of burning from UV radiation, so you should use sunscreen designed for fair skin.

Bottom Line

Sunburn is the most common side effect of UV radiation. It occurs when your skin is exposed to too much UV radiation and it’s not protected by sunscreen. Sunburn triggers an inflammatory response that leads to a warm sensation and can take up to 48 hours to heal. To prevent sunburn, avoid direct exposure to the sun during peak hours and apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.

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David Silverman
David Silverman
David Silverman is a news blogger who has a passion for writing. He loves to share his thoughts on the latest news and events happening in the world. David is always looking for new ways to improve his writing skills and share his voice with others.
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