Sunburn Vs. Windburn: What's the Difference Between These Two Winter Skin Concerns?

January 30, 2018

When it comes to skin woes, most of us have probably suffered from sunburn or windburn- or both - at one time or another. In fact, on a ski trip last year that my parents promised would be fun, I somehow managed to amass both afflictions, and proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend getaway slathering aloe and Aquaphor onto my inflamed cheeks. (Mom, if you're reading this: It was so not fun). Needless to say, I doubt I'll be hitting the slopes anytime soon, but on the off-chance that I do, I want to be better prepared. It's for this reason that I decided to take a closer look at sunburn and windburn, because, despite their similar names, the two are not mutually exclusive. You see, people (myself included, clearly) tend to get the two confused seeing as they both end with the word "burn" and elicit similar symptoms, but believe it or not, they're actually very different from one another. Windburn occurs as somewhat of an "irritant dermatitis" in that the wind hits the skin and pulls water out of the stratum corneum - a.k.a. the top layer of the epidermis. Sunburn happens when we're exposed to the sun's harmful UV rays, which causes direct damage to our skin cells' DNA and can result in discoloration and age spots down the line. Sunburns can also put us at greater risk for skin cancer, which we should all know by now.


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