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Definition of Sunburn

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Sunburn: Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin that develops in response to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or from tanning beds and booths that emit UV radiation. Sunburn is manifested by reddened, painful skin that may develop blisters.

Sunburn early in life increases one's risk of developing skin cancers later in life such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Sunburn can also lead to premature wrinkling of the skin. Sunburn can be prevented by limitation of sun exposure and use of sunscreen products. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 are recommended for most people.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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