When your skin is burned by a prolonged exposure to the sun, besides the tan effect, you might also experience the occurrence of white flakes or blisters on the affected area, depending of the severity of the burn. Since burns may affect the skin all over the body including the face, a lot of people are concerned about the scars these blisters and flakes are going to cause.
Do sunburns cause scars?
Sunburns may lead to blisters or tanned skin area that may lead into dry flaking skin within days. Depending on its degree of severity, sunburns may trigger different effects for the skin. The degree of severity also determine whether or not sunburns are going to leave visible scars on the burned skin. Regarding this, not all sunburns leave scars, as long as those are not bad enough. Sunburns which leave scars that can be permanent or are hard to eliminate are usually the ones causing damages not only to the superficial layer of the skin, but also the dermis. Mild sunburns commonly merely cause skin peeling, which is a natural process of healing elapsed by the skin cells and layers after experiencing the damages caused by sunburns. These peeling skin—appearing and visible as whitish flakes commonly do not cause any scars, as long as you do not peel off the skin that will not come off. Consequently, if mild sunburns do cause scars, the most common risk factors are the peeling and blisters that are picked at or peeled forcefully during the healing process.
Do sunburn scars go away?
When sunburns do leave scars on the affected skin, it is not easy to predict how long the scars are going to last before it finally disappears. Related to these resulted scars, there are factors which can be helpful in determining how severe the resulted scars are. Sunburns affecting the dermis may cause tissue damages. During the healing process, new skin tissues are produced by the skin cells. These new skin tissues may have different complexion compared to the existing one, causing visible hyperpigmentation. Eventually, this hyperpigmentation may be less noticeable, although it will hardly go away completely. Your skin type and characteristics also affect how long scars from sunburn are going to stay. With mild sunburns wherein skin peel is common, peeling the skin which is coming off generally does not trigger scars. Hence, tanned skin resulted from the burn is going to go away within days after the burn. In other words, scars that are hard to eliminate and stay longer on the burned skin are triggered by forceful peeling on the skin that is not coming off yet, which may trigger bleeding and infection. These scars may stay for months or years—in worse cases, and will not be easy to be completely eliminated.
Treating sunburns to minimize scars
How you treat the skin affected by sunburns plays an important role in the occurrence of scars in the future. There are some basic principles you might want to consider while taking care of sunburned skin in order to minimize the appearance of scars, such as:
- Moisturize the area with peeling skin often. This will decrease the dry skin that tempt you to scratch or pick at it, as these actions may lead to scarring.
- Do not force the skin to come off. Damaged skin cells are going to come off naturally. If you want to loosen the peeled skin, do not pick at it. Instead, take a lukewarm bath that will loosen up the flakes, followed by gentle exfoliate that will remove dead damaged skin cells.
- If sunburn causes blisters, cover it with sterilized gauze for protection and promoting moist environment, which is essential for proper healing.