Being out of doors means being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, even on cloudy days.
UV rays from the sun, an invisible form of radiation, can damage skin and ultimately cause skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.
Sunburn results when UV rays exceed the ability of melanin to protect the skin. People with fair skin can sunburn very quickly , less than 15 minutes, in midday sun exposure. The first signs of sunburn may not appear for a few hours, with the full effect to the skin taking 24 hours or longer to become evident. Symptoms of sunburn are usually temporary, but the skin damage is permanent and can have long-term effects. By the time the skin starts to become painful and re, the damage has been done. Pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after sunburn.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your skin protected from the sun:
- The sun’s rays are strongest during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sun’s rays are also strongest at higher altitudes and lower latitudes. Reflection off water, sand, or snow can make the sun’s burning rays stronger.
- Infants and children are very sensitive to the burning effects of the sun.
- Some medications can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn.
- There is no such thing as a “healthy tan” , including tans obtained by use of tanning beds. Unprotected UV exposure, from the sun or tanning beds, causes early aging of the skin.
- Skin cancer usually appears in adulthood, but is caused by sun exposure and sunburns that began as early as childhood.
Sunburn is better prevented than treated. Ways to prevent sunburn include:
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with and SPF of 30 or higher. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
- Apply sunscreen in generous amounts and fully cover skin. Reapply every 2 hours!
- Apply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, even in cloudy weather.
- Wear a hat and other protective clothing. Light colored clothing is best.
- Stay out of the sun during midday hours.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
Severe sunburns can cause second or third degree burns. You should seek medical attention if:
- Extreme pain lasts for more than 48 hours
- Severe sunburn covers more than 15% of the body
- Dehydration occurs
- Fever of 101 degrees or higher develops