How Can you Avoid Getting Sunburned from Welding?

Do you get sunburned a lot? Unlike most people, I am not usually the kind who gets sunburns easily.

It takes much longer sun exposure or something more intense before my skin gets any reaction. This is why I do not mind doing tasks that expose me to heat or any of that sort. 

However, recently, as I was welding, I noticed some red blotches that started to appear on my skin. I never really thought of getting sunburned from welding but now I am looking into the possibility. 

After figuring out why it happened, and what I should have done to avoid it, I’ll be sharing a few helpful notes with you.

Overview

Welding is the process of fusing two or more parts employing heat and pressure. It is mostly done on metal which requires a much hotter temperature than when welding wood or other elements for that matter. With this, it is confirmed that welding, especially on metal, can cause specific “sunburns”. 

What are the kinds of “sunburns” caused by welding?

Flash burns are the kind of “sunburns” that we get from the intense flashes of ultraviolet light released from welding torches. The commonly affected areas are your arms, hands, and shoulder. 

Another common kind of “sunburn” is called “arc eye” or “welder’s eye”. This is caused by the flash of intense ultraviolet radiation coming from the welding arc. People who are suffering from this may experience the following:

  • Pain, from feelings of mild pressure in the eye to intense burning
  • Eye tearing and reddening
  • A gritty “sand-like” sensation
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty looking directly at light sources

These symptoms usually go away in a day or two but the loss of vision or more severe issues may happen when left untreated.

Treatment of Sunburn from Welding

When experiencing flash burns on your skin, be sure to do the following steps:

  • Moisturize the burned area at all times preferably with an aloe-based sun-soothing lotion.
  • Keep the burn covered when going outdoors.
  • Refrain from scratching, picking, or peeling actions that may interrupt its natural healing process.
  • Apply cool water to the affected area as often as needed.

When dealing with an arc eye, the following should be able to help provide immediate relief and healing:

  • Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or codeine for no more than two (2) days. Consult your doctor if the pain or discomfort continues.
  • Wear sunglasses when going out. Do the same when you feel any light sensitivity while staying indoors.
  • Use artificial tears or lubricants to relieve the burning sensation in your eyes.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your eyes have completely healed.
sunburn due to welding

Preventive Measures

There are recommended treatments for flash burns and arc eyes but prevention is always better than cure. To avoid getting “sunburns” from welding, observe the following measures at all times:

  • Wear the necessary protective gear. You may feel some discomfort from wearing pants, long sleeves, or face masks for too long so try to work shorter shifts. Take short breaks in between to let your body cool off.
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed areas. This protects your skin from the ultraviolet light emitted by the welding torch/arc. If possible, apply sunscreen all over your body, even the areas covered by your protective gear.
  • Do not get too close to your torch. It can get a bit tricky since it requires balance to be able to operate properly whilst making sure that you are at a safe distance. Keeping your torch as far away from your body as possible decreases skin exposure.
  • Drink enough fluids and keep your skin moisturized. Ultraviolet rays are ultimately harmful to our skin as it causes it to dry. UV radiation damages the cells that may cause burns.

Final Words

Sunburns may be caused by direct sun exposure or from other sources of ultraviolet rays. Although this is a common skin issue, it can become acute when left unattended.

Furthermore, sunburns are not the only risk of welding. Studies show that there are other health risks brought upon by exposure to ultraviolet rays.

With the help of this article, prepare all necessary equipment to ensure your safety when welding. Know and observe the preventive measures recommended; it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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