A man in Texas got a reminder about the importance of sunscreen: He developed a sunburn so severe that the swelling allowed him to make a dent in his forehead.
On Monday (Dec. 4), Cade Huckabay posted a series of photos to Twitter showing the sunburn that developed after he exposed his newly shaved head to the sun for too long.
"One time I shaved my head, got severely sunburned, & swelled up just a little bit," Huckabay tweeted. The photos show Huckabay poking the swollen area with his finger, creating an indentation. "At one point, I could put a dent in my forehead, and it would stay there for like half an hour," he said in the tweet.
Many people are familiar with the pain and redness of sunburns, but severe sunburns can also cause swelling and blisters, as well as fever, chills and weakness, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors said the swelling seen in Huckabay's photo is unusual.
"I've never seen anyone get anything like that," said Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It's very peculiar," Green said, noting that she more commonly sees effects such as blisters and skin pigmentation or depigmentation associated with sunburns. "It must have been a really huge sunburn," she added. [5 Things You Didn't Know About Sunscreen]
Sunburns are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. In particular, a type of radiation known as UVB radiation is most often associated with sunburns, and another type, called UVA, is more associated with skin aging, according to the Mayo Clinic.
During sun exposure, the ultraviolet radiation can damage DNA in your cells, causing inflammation and death of skin cells, according to Medscape. Sunburn inflammation causes widening of the blood vessels in the skin, resulting in the characteristic skin redness, Medscape says.
Huckabay said on Twitter that it was the first time he shaved his head, which could have contributed to his sunburn severity.
The newly exposed skin on his scalp is "like baby skin, new skin," which is more sensitive and has less natural protection against sunlight than previously exposed skin, Green told Live Science.
She also cautioned against touching a severe sunburn like Huckabay's. "Any kind of skin like that is very sensitive. I would leave it alone," she said.
Huckabay also said on Twitter that his sunburn "hurt for a week or so," but he has since recovered.
Getting sunburned increases your risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer, including melanoma, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Original article on Live Science.
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Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.