Because symptoms are similar, telling the difference between windburn and sunburn can be difficult. Skin-damaging UV rays cause sunburn, while cold and windy weather causes windburn. Sunburn poses a long-term health risk, and may even cause skin cancer. While windburn is harmless in the long-term, but still leaves your skin red and irritated after a day of hiking, skiing, or even just walking in the park.
You’re fresh off the ski slopes, your skin feels tight and irritated, so you head home for a look in the mirror. Your face is dry and red as a beat. It must be sunburn and only sunburn, right? Well. . . not so fast. There’s a high likelihood that what you’re experiencing is actually windburn.
Windburn often happens to those who spend time in the outdoors, in cold and windy conditions. Although it’s most prevalent at exposed altitudes (hikers, climbers, and skiers should take extra precaution), anyone can experience windburn, even on a casual walk through the park.
Accuweather caught up with Senior Medical Director of WebMD, Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy, who says windburn happens when “the oil on your skin is depleted because of the weather and your skin underneath gets really irritated.”
The tricky thing is that many experience sunburn and windburn simultaneously, and the symptoms are almost identical, so how can you tell them apart? Here’s a hint. . . a sunburn will stick around much longer than a windburn. So if you’re red in the face days after exposure, then it’s safe to say you’ve been sunburn. But if the redness and irritation subsides within a matter of hours, then windburn was likely the culprit.
So how do sunburn and windburn differ from a health-risk perspective? Well, with sunburn the UV rays penetrate the skin and can cause serious long-term skin damage, which may even lead to skin cancer. Whereas windburn only superficially irritates the outer layers of the skin, and therefore poses no long-term health risk.
Either way, it’s important to protect yourself from excessive exposure to the elements. And the best way to accomplish this is to cover up just as you would for a long day under the sun. And remember to be intentional with time spent outdoors, whether hiking or skiing or walking the dog. Limit your exposure, and take the necessary steps to stay safe in the sun.
In case of an issue, apply our After Sun restorative lotion for a quick turnaround of your damaged skin. Featuring melanin activating peptides, some pretty advanced scientifically formulated enzyme (derived from the sea) and a proprietary blend of botanicals selected for their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, you'll be glad you have it with you in your suitcase.