Infrared, ultraviolet, and visible radiation are emitted by welding arcs and flames. Just as UV radiation in sunlight will burn unprotected skin, UV radiation in a welding arc will do the same. Radiation that is reflected from metal surfaces, walls, and ceilings can pose the same hazard as direct exposure to UV radiation.
One of the most frequently asked questions is: “Can welding cause sunburn?” In this article, I’ll answer this question in detail to help you manage this preventable risk. If you weld for work or as a hobby, you are exposed to many troubles. These occupational hazards are mostly unavoidable. However, if you are armed with the knowledge, you can reduce the risk factor.
Can welding cause sunburn? If he can. Welding can cause sunburn, posing a risk to the skin and eyes. If you are not careful when welding, this is one of the most common hazards.
This is why you will find that welders often have extra protective gear.
How welding causes sunburn?
Your welding torch emits ultraviolet rays and flashes, and if it comes in contact with exposed skin or eyes, it can cause significant damage. This radiation is similar to that emitted by the sun. That is why it is called a welder’s burn.
Sunburn can come from the welding torch itself. Not only that, but the reflection of light on certain surfaces can have the same effect.
For example, a carpeted surface on the surface reduces the intensity of the welding arc. This, in turn, will decrease the severity of sunburn. In contrast, aluminum and stainless steel reflect light, leading to more severe sunburn when welding.
Color also affects the likelihood and intensity of welding sunburn. For example, blue colors reflect light, which makes sunburn worse.
Otherwise, you can get one picture of the actual sun to the welding on the outside. In this case, you need to use shielding equipment for the neck to prevent it.
What are the symptoms of sunburn welding?
There are apparent symptoms that appear immediately and let you know that you have a sweaty sunburn, while others may occur after a few hours.
Burning of the skin
If your bare skin is touched by the ultraviolet radiation from the welding machine, you will immediately feel the burning sensation. Depending on the radiation’s intensity, the skin becomes sensitive and may even peel off if the burn is severe enough.
If you get lightning, symptoms may appear more slowly than if you had a sunburn on your skin. As a result, any of the following indications should be monitored and noted to receive prompt treatment and avoid complications.
Instant burn symptoms to look out for are:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Blurry vision
- Foreign body in the eyes
How to treat welding sweat?
Unfortunately, if you get sunburned while soldering, don’t wait! You must follow these steps immediately.
For the skin
1. Let the burned area cool down
Cooling the burned skin will help minimize damage and reduce inflammation. You can use a cold pack or justice for a quick fix.
2. Disinfect the wound
This is especially important if you have a deep or open wound. Make sure to disinfect to avoid other complications like pus or abscesses.
3. Moisturize the affected area
If the burned area is damp, preferably apply a deep moisturizing lotion to aid the healing process.
You will find that any topical cream that contains steroids is useful in this case because it hydrates and relieves pain.
You can also use creams that contain aloe vera or calamine, as they help reduce inflammation. Even the use of after-sun lotion should be sufficient in less severe cases.
4. Drink lots of fluids
Drinking fluids will help keep you and the injured area hydrated. Helps heal the skin.
After this first, let’s call it the first aid response; you can assess the situation. Consultation with a physician is recommended for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, especially in the most severe cases.
By the eyes
In case of a retinal flash burn, you can use sliding eye drops. The eye can also be covered to avoid contact with light.
However, in the event of an eye injury, I recommend seeking immediate medical attention to avoid unwanted developments.
In most cases, a doctor can prescribe topical antibiotics and oral medications for pain relief. He may also recommend covering the injured eye to speed up the healing process and protect it from further damage.
Long-term risks when welding sunburn
In addition to the immediate effects and discomfort caused by sunburn welding, there are serious long-term effects.
Intense and repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the welding torch can lead to the development of mutant cells that, in some cases, cause cancer.
Another risk is that the cornea could be burned if the lightning burn is severe enough. In most cases, this results in a partial or complete loss of vision.
How to avoid sunburn welding?
Prevention is the key to sunburn welding.
While it is easy to get burned when welding, it is also easy to avoid it.
Taking the necessary precautions could quickly reduce the risk by following a protective procedure and wearing protective clothing.
Choosing the right helmet for you is essential and related to your welding process. Since different welding processes emit different UV intensities, you again need your helmet to protect yourself accordingly.
In general, if you are using MIG welding, you will need a # 10 lens. For TIG welding, a # 11 should be fair, and for arc welding, a # 12.
You can think of goggles as a less bulky option than a helmet. However, these only cover your eyes. Therefore, a helmet is more effective because it protects the entire face, not just the eyes.
Wearing gloves will protect your hand from splashes, sparks, and heat.
And I’m not talking about gloves. There are special gloves for this. You can choose between different thicknesses and types of leather.
If you want to be very careful, you can add a little flame retardant to your glove.
It would help if you got a work jacket. If you are working in a cold place or outdoors, there are sturdy jackets that will protect you from both the welder and the cold UV rays.
If it’s summer or you’re working in a hot place, you have the option of wearing a protective apron or bib.
Sunburn welding is a possibility if you’re not careful.
However, if you follow the protective measures, you can easily avoid touching the soldering iron’s sunburn.
Don’t worry if you get sunburned while soldering. There are clear and straightforward protocols that you can follow to help you recover.
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THE TEAM THAT WORKED ON THIS REVIEW
Hi, I’m Andrew Miller — a certified welding expert and instructor based in Long Island, NY.
With over three decades in the industry, I’m passionate about combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience to train the next generation of skilled welders.
I specialize in all forms of arc welding, including GMAW, GTAW, GMAW, FCAW & SAW. But my experience isn’t limited to just those—I’m also knowledgeable in oxyfuel gas welding and plasma arc cutting.
My years as a welding inspector and supervisor have honed my ability to ensure the highest standards in welding quality and safety, making me adept at executing and overseeing complex welding operations.
You can find more information about me on my website, weldingzilla.com, or connect with me on LinkedIn.