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Sunburn

Known scientifically as 'actinic dermatitis', sunburn is your skin's response to overexposure to UV radiation. The skin turns red and becomes hot and painful. Severe sunburn can cause swelling and blistering due to burn to living tissue – the skin. While dark skin helps protect the skin from such a reaction through a large amount of melanin which absorbs damaging solar radiation, fair skin contains a smaller amount of melanin and therefore burns more easily and is more susceptible to damage. In other words, such sunburn causes injury to the skin with inflammation, tenderness following excessive exposure to the sunlight. This problem is commonly faced during the summer season. However, cold weather does not make one immune to bad sunburn when the sun reflecting off snow can cause burns on exposed skin. If the skin has been burnt, it could take months to return to normal and sunburn is also linked with skin cancer later on.


Symptoms of sunburn

Probably, the signature symptom of sunburn is bright red skin that is painful to touch. Peeling after sunburn is probably the body's way of getting rid of damaged cells. This is necessary as cells damaged by the sun are at risk of 'losing control' and becoming cancerous. The damaged cells commit a sort of suicide by repair mechanisms of these cells. After this peeling off, skin cells are replaced by other cells underneath those layers. As the peeling skin heals, it may become itchy. It can take months for the skin to return to normal.


Sunburn blister treatment

Sun blisters are areas of raised skin that contain fluid and may develop several hours after the initial prolonged sun exposure. Sun blisters cannot be taken lightly and studies point out that it is five times more susceptible to skin cancer. The risk of having skin cancer doubles if you have suffered from severe sunburn blister during childhood or adolescence.


  • Do not touch or pop blister. This will lengthen the healing process.
  • Two tablespoons of salt can be added to cool water. Soak a few gauze strips in the solution and apply it to the affected areas for around half an hour daily.
  • If the blister ruptures, apply a topical antibiotic to minimize the risk of infection.
  • In case of pus,lymph nodes or fever develops, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
  • A traditional treatment for sunburn blister is to use sandalwood paste or powder in raw milk. This is a mild antiseptic and also soothes the burning sensation of the sunburn.
  • Use high SPF lotion when exposed to sun.
  • Drink some water or lemon juice before getting out in the sun to prevent dehydration.
  • Small unbroken blisters less than an inch wide usually heal on their own in most cases. It is imperative not to break blisters. Just leave them alone and do not cover them unless some clothing is rubbing against them.

Prevent sunburn

Do not stay out long between 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun's rays are the strongest. Wear protective clothing. Opt for lightweight fabrics that are cool and which give sun protection. Do not forget sunglasses, as eyes can get sunburn too. And above all, the simple way to avoid sunburn is to go in a shaded area. Else use an umbrella.

Lentigo Maligna

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer is categorized into four types, three are 'in situ' and the fourth type is invasive. In situ is a very early stage of melanoma and does not invade enough to be considered invasive. Lentigo Maligna is 'in situ'. The cancer cells are in the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and are contained in the area in which the cells started to develop. If left untreated, 'in situ' lentigo maligna can become invasive.


  • Lentigo maligna is more common in males.
  • Working outdoors (exposure to UV rays) increases risk.
  • Early childhood exposure to sunburn blisters increases chance of developing at later stage of life.
  • Family history increases chance of developing lentigo maligna.
  • Begins as a patch.
  • Occurs around hair follicles on the sun-damaged skin of the head and neck or even face.
  • Grows very slowly over many years.
  • Diagnosed usually during middle age and the elderly.

Lentigo Maligna - ABCD rule

Initially, it appears as a mole in the sun exposed areas. Over time, it grows into an odd-looking, multi-colored structure that doesn't go away. The ABCD rule is useful to recognize lentigo maligna. Considering these as lentigo maligna symptoms, without any delay, it is best to seek medical attention.


A: Stands for asymmetry. The mole can be anywhere on the skin which is not symmetric in shape.

B: Stands for border. The border of the mole is ragged, notched, and irregular.

C: Stands for color. The mole is multi-colored, a mixture of brown, black, red, blue or white in varying shades and patterns.

D: Stands for diameter. The size of the mole is more than 6mm.


Lentigo maligna diagnosis

Post a visual examination of the affected areas, a skin biopsy is recommended by the doctor. A biopsy is required for diagnosis. The biopsy involves removing the growth and a small part of the surrounding skin to analyze it under a microscope. Confirming lentigo maligna diagnosis, the doctor determines the best course of treatment.


Lentigo maligna treatment

Early detection and medical attention restrains the lesions or mole from spreading across the skin's surface. If left untreated, it can spread deeper into the skin and can eventually pass to other parts of the body.

Slow Mohs is a preferred surgical technique for completely removing the melanoma. Along with it, about 5mm margin of normal tissue is also excised. Radiation or cryosurgery is resorted to when the lesion is difficult to access and excise. Under local anaesthesia, surgery is performed. Healthy tissues around the area are also removed as a precautionary step leaving no cancerous cells. If the mole or lesion is in an area where spare skin is not available, like the face or lower leg, skin graft to remove the lesions may be required. A plastic surgeon would remove skin and replace it from another area. A follow-up visit may or may not be required.


Lentigo maligna self care tips

Lentigo maligna is not hereditary but it is more likely to develop when a close relative has suffered a melanoma. Self care tips can prevent getting another lentigo maligna.


  • Monthly self examination of the whole body applying ABCD lentigo maligna rule.
  • Protect your skin from too much exposure to the sun. Use sun-care tips like sun protection cream, wearing a hat, cotton clothes, avoiding sun bathing, sunburn and tanning etc.
  • Avoid sun beds and tanning lamps.
  • Avoiding direct sunlight exposure can be substituted to an extent with Vitamin D supplements.
  • Inform family members particularly the youngsters keeping in mind the genetic influence.


Sunscreen

If you cannot prevent exposing yourself to sun, the next best thing is to protect your skin with adequate sunscreen. It is a myth that sunscreen needs to be used only in summer. The winter sun too can wreak havoc on the skin and adequate skin protection is required. Sunscreens come as lotions, creams, gels, sprays and oils. A good sunscreen is effective against UVA and UVB rays. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is critical when selecting a sunscreen lotion. The SPF is indicative of the amount of exposure that your skin can handle from UVB rays before it turns red. A SPF of at least 15 is recommended for all skin types. Fair or light skinned people are generally more sensitive to the sun. Such skin will not tan but will get sunburn easily. They need to go in for a sunscreen with SPF 25.

Olive toned skin or skin of Mediterranean or Asian or Arab origin tans easily and needs SPF 15. Dark skinned people too would need sunscreen. Ideally, sunscreen must be applied at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. A generous amount of sunscreen must be applied to all parts of the body that will be exposed to the sun.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 19, 2017