Summer Fun and Sunburn Pain: Dangers and Remedies for too Much Sun

 

There is something a bit pleasant about going into the yard on one of the first nice spring days and feeling the sun on your skin.  A slight “color in

Cartoon image of a man who is as red as a lobster and obviously on fire from his sunburn.

Oooouuuuccchhhhh!

your face” can make you feel like winter is finally behind you.  But there is nothing pleasant about sunburns, melanoma, or the leather handbag appearance you skin can take on after a lifetime in the sun.  How can you enjoy the sun but avoid the burn?

A sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to too much UV radiation.  It is the skin’s way of saying that you need to keep out of the sun.  Tans, while we may find them attractive, are simply visible skin damage.  The body knows that these damaged cells need to go before they are allowed to run amok and develop into cancer. The peeling we see after a sunburn is really a mass of cells committing “suicide,” under instructions from the body.  The problem with this is that the cells in subsequent layers of skin are also damaged and may not be able to kill themselves off in the future.  Over time, this can ruin the appearance of your skin – and its health.  Skin
cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and cumulative exposure to the sun is largely to blame.

Stay inside all summer long; go outside only at night.  These are good ways to avoid sunburn – and to get the neighbors talking about you.  We can’t avoid going outside, but we can avoid sunburn.  The most basic step is to put on sunscreen.  Choose one with a 15 SPF (at the very least) and which blocks both UVA and UVB rays.  Apply it to every part of your body that is exposed about 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 to 3 hours if you are outdoors.  Wearing a hat can help, as can
wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.

If you can, avoid working, playing, or lounging in the sun at its most intense, which is between 10 am and 3 pm.  If you are going out then, make sure you use a high SPF block and reapply it as needed.  If you are going to be swimming, choose a waterproof sunblock, and reapply more often.

Medical training illustration showing a cross-section of human skin, a group of skin cells showing those with melanin, and view of the chest arm and neck of a man who was wearing a shirt but is burned on his neck, arms, and face.

Sunburning UV Rays, Skin, and Melanin the Guardian

We sometimes forget that we can get sun damage anytime.  We don’t have to be lying out on the beach in the direct sun.  We can burn on overcast days, or when we’re driving to and from work.  You can find lotions that have sun protection built-in, and these are good for everyday use.

Concerned about your health?  Concerned about your appearance?  Then concern yourself with sunburn and avoid damaging your skin for life.

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