Sunburn is part of a cyclists routine. It’s often seen as the sun’s way of branding those who dare to venture out under its intense heat. They are like a tattoo that serves as an identification mark for cyclists, runners and few other athletes. However, if taken too lightly, these marks can bring more grief than glory.
What is sunburn and how is it caused?
- Sunburn is caused due to overexposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
- These radiations are at their highest intensity between 12.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m.
- The closer you reside to the equator, the stronger is the sun’s UV radiation.
- A suntan is the first ill effect due to overexposure to the sun.
Sunburns should not be taken lightly as the skin is an important organ and severe sunburns may cause tissue damage or even result in tumors.
Sunscreen has been widely used to prevent sunburns.
However, 70 to 80 percent of the sunscreen is often washed away with your sweat. Therefore, it is important to use a sunscreen with a higher SPF and keep reapplying it at regular intervals. Apply a thicker coat of sunscreen on your hands, including the back of your hand.
Do not forget to coat your back as sunburn on the back is common among cyclists. Remember to coat your face and ears with special attention to the delicate area under your eyes.
- Sunglasses with UV protection are a must-have to prevent any severe damage to the eyes.
- Wearing long sleeves may also prove helpful. However, some cyclists cannot afford to cover themselves in a long distance race due to aerodynamical reasons.
- Wear a helmet with a damp cloth inside. The cloth can be kept wet throughout the ride to help you stay cool.5. Avoid cycling during peak hours i.e. between 12.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m.
- To avoid sunburn, one can apply a coat of neem and sesame oil to the skin. It acts as a good sunblock.
- Keep yourself hydrated with water, coconut water, lemon or watermelon juice.
Signs and symptoms:
- The degree of the burn depends on the exposure to the sun.
- Sunburns appear reddish and have a burning sensation when touched.
- Sunburns can cause fatigue and make you feel dizzy with a headache.
- It can cause your skin to peel off and have an itching sensation.
- Serious sunburn can lead to blistering.
- Very severe cases can lead to skin cancer, comparatively rare in India due to our darker skin complexion. (Since the pigment melanin acts as a buffer; the darker the skin, the more the melanin, resulting in better buffering)
While sunburns do heal, they can take up to a few weeks.
- Home treatments like a cold water bath or use of aloe vera lotion can ease the discomfort.
- Aloe vera has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that help deal with the various symptoms of sunburn
- Skin lotions to treat the pain are also available.
- Home remedies like cucumber slices kept over the affected area have proved to be effective.
Editor: Tracy Alvares