Dr. George 13.8

Sunburn, Sunstroke, and Heatstroke

It’s a bluebird day with sparkling fresh powder, and because of the cold temperatures you won’t feel the power of the sun. But right now, the ultraviolet rays of the sun are particularly strong. Throughout late spring and summer camps, the strength of the ultraviolet light reaches its maximum peak and can do serious harm to your skin. The effect is called sunburn and it’s what makes you look like a lobster.

What exactly is ultraviolet light?

Sunlight is a blend of different kinds of light and light colors. Everyone knows the colors of the rainbow. Rainbows occur when the sun’s light is refracted in drops of water in the atmosphere. Beyond this color spectrum of visible light, which begins with violet, lies ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light (UV-light) is a short-wave radiation that transmits its relatively high energy to the cellular structures of the regeneration layer of the skin. When light energy becomes too strong, UV-light can destroy skin cells and you get sunburned.

What can I do to protect my skin against sunburn effectively?

Human skin has natural protective mechanisms to protect itself against the sun’s rays:

*The skin pigment melanin is what makes skin tan and is produced inside the pigment cells (melanocytes), which are found in the uppermost layers of the skin. The production of melanin increases after two to three weeks of exposure to sunlight and turns light energy into safe heat energy.

*The skin adapts after about fourteen days of exposure to the radiation of sunlight by becoming thicker.

Unfortunately, this is not enough. Excessive UV-radiation without proper protection causes sunburn, which is what damages your skin the most. Sunburn manifests itself by means of redness and swelling of the skin, pain, and eventually even blisters. With many sunburns, the risk of skin cancer increases. This is why sun protection is also long-term protection against skin cancer in one’s old age.

Certain skin areas are more exposed to light than others, therefore they should be especially protected:

*Forehead, nose ridge, outer edges of the ears, cheeks, lower lip, nape of the neck, back of the hands, and forearms. 

Protection Against Too Much Sun

The most effective protection against the damaging effects of sunlight is to wear clothes. However, textile material does not protect our skin completely against the sun. Cotton is better than synthetic fibers, but cotton also lets around six percent of the radiation through and if wet, can allow up to twenty percent. Whether sun-protection garments are in light or dark colors seems to be all but a matter of taste. If the fabric is not too thin, it will keep enough sun off your skin regardless of the fabric’s color. Another very important thing to remember is to shade your head.

Sunscreen

Due to the high level of UV-radiation in mountain areas, sunblock with a minimum sun protection factor of 25 is recommended. It should also be waterproof.

The so-called sun protection factor indicates the time it takes under constant sun exposure before normal skin turns red from UV-radiation. For instance, use of a sunscreen with sun protection factor ten (SPF 10) protects your skin from turning red ten times longer than without any sunscreen.

What can I do in case of serious sunburn?

*Get out of thee sun or find shade.

*Cool down affected skin areas with damp packs.

*Cover wounds with sterile material.

*Drink liquids.

*In case of heavy burns or worsening general condition, consult a physician.

High altitude and snowboarding causes your body to lose water. This loss is further increased by sun radiation. All this can lead to heat injuries like sunstroke or heatstroke if neglected.

Causes Of Sunstroke:

Direct sun radiation to the unprotected head.

Symptoms:

*Red and hot head

*Headache, consciousness disorders

*Nausea, vomiting, dizziness

*Neck stiffness

Help:

*Check consciousness, respiration, and circulatory functions.

*Look for a cool place in the shade.

*Rest upper body in a raised position.

*Place cool wet packs on nape of the neck and forehead.

*If necessary, place a call for emergency assistance.

Prevention:

*Wear head covering.

*Limit exposure to sun radiation.

Causes Of A Heatstroke:
Excessive transpiration and insufficient liquid supply during physical strain.

Symptoms:

*Shock symptoms (accelerated and weak pulse, pallor, sweat on forehead, irritation)

*Damp and warm skin (normal temperature)

Help:

*Look for a cool place in the shade.

*Shock emergency measures (flat positioning of the body with slightly raised legs, keep warm, calm down, check respiration, consciousness, circulatory functions).

*Supply liquid.

Prevention:
Drink enough liquid. Without physical strain, the human body needs two-and-a-half liters per day. During physical strain, the body produces evaporation cooling by sweating as a protection against overheating. The loss of liquid through transpiration must be compensated by natural supply in the form of drinking. During intensive sport activity, liquid requirements increase up to five or six liters per day.

To Sum It Up:

Cover your head, drink a lot (we’re talking water or something comparable), and don’t forget to wear sunscreen with a sufficient sun protection factor. Have fun boarding.