Prevent Sunburn During Summer Sun Safety Month
Sunburns aren’t just painful and hot; they cause wrinkles! More than that, a sunburn can cause long-term damage to your skin, which may lead to skin cancer. August is a time many head to the North Carolina beaches or play outdoors; here’s how to prevent sunburn and what to do if you get sunburn.
What is Sunburn?
The sun’s ultraviolet radiation damages the skin cells and causes mutations in their DNA. While our bodies manage some of this, overexposure causes the cells to die off. Then, your blood vessels increase blood flow (hence the redness) and call on your immune system to help.
Sun damage over time causes wrinkles, discolorations, age spots, and skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their life. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer; these growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells cause mutations that lead to tumors. If you have had more than five sunburns, your risk for melanoma doubles.
How to Prevent Sunburn
Research has not shown a topical product that can reverse sun damage. Instead, your best bet is prevention. The best approach is to cover your skin and avoid direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Of course, that’s not easy in the summer, so be sure to apply sunscreen.
Sunscreens have come into question lately, both due to oxybenzone (bad for the environment) and other chemicals (bad for you). Check out our reGenerations line of fantastic sunscreens for both adults and kids that are smooth, lightweight, and are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. They are oil-free, fragrance-free, and safe for children six months and up.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Choose SPF 15 or higher for daily wear and 30 or higher for outdoors.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you head out; it works much better that way!
- Reapply every two hours or more often if you’re in the water.
- Watch out for expiration dates; sunscreen expires after three years and loses effectiveness.
What to Do if You Get Sunburned
There may be times when you can’t prevent sunburn. While you can’t repair the damage to your skin, you can soothe that awful feeling in a few ways. First, get out of the sun as soon as you see the signs. Sometimes, your skin won’t turn red until hours later.
- Cool the burn with cold compresses, but don’t apply ice directly to the skin.
- A cooling shower is OK, but don’t stay in too long, which will dry your skin out.
- While skin is damp, apply moisturizer, but avoid any with oil or petroleum, which will trap the heat. Reapply moisturizer daily.
- Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate your body as it works to heal the skin.
- Take ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin as needed for pain relief.
- Don’t pull off peeling skin or exfoliate. Let the skin fall off on its own.
- Cover your burn when outdoors.
Call a Doctor If…
Serious sunburns are not to be taken lightly. If you have severe blistering, a fever, or chills, call a doctor. Also, seek medical attention if you are woozy or confused. If your burn blisters do not pop them; they may become infected. Watch for red streaks or oozing pus, which are signs of infection.
Questions about your sun damage? Contact our team at reGenerations to learn how we can help.