PETER SKINNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PETER SKINNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sunburn. Peeling skin on the back of a sunburnt woman. Sunburn is caused by over-exposure to sunlight. The ultra-violet radiation in direct sunlight destroys cells in the outer layer of skin and damages tiny blood vessels beneath. Affected skin becomes inflamed and may blister, and several days later the dead cells are shed by peeling. Sunburn is most common in fair-skinned people whose skin lacks the protective pigment melanin. Repeated exposure can age the skin prematurely and increases the risk of skin cancer. Calamine lotion and painkillers help to soothe sunburnt skin, but severe cases may require medical attention and corticosteroid drugs.
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