Sunburn is not just a summertime beach threat. It can affect anyone at virtually any time of the year if you’re not careful.
Sunburn can cause more problems than just some temporary pain and redness. Over time, frequent sunburn can contribute to premature aging of the skin, and can even lead to deadly skin cancer. By following the simple steps below, you can have fun in the sun and still protect yourself and your family from sunburn and keep your skin healthy and young-looking.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. This may be the most important step you can take in protecting yourself from sunburn and the dangerous long-term effects of sun exposure. Sunscreen creams and lotions come in a wide variety of sun protection factors (SFPs). The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.
- Dress for skin success. If you are planning to be outdoors for any length of time, dress accordingly. While sunscreen is effective in preventing sunburn, clothing does an even better job of blocking the sun. And don’t forget to protect your soft and vulnerable facial skin by wearing a wide-brim hat or visor, which can offer better protection than sunglasses.
- Don’t let the clouds fool you. Many people learn the hard way that you need to protect yourself from the sun even on cloudy and overcast days. On these days, people often tend to stay outdoors longer without skin protection, because there is no visible sun to warn them of the potential skin damage. Furthermore, in the limited sunlight, the skin might not start to appear pink until it is too late.
- Tanning salons are dangerous, too. Some people have fallen for the propaganda offered by the tanning industry which claims that tanning booths offer a safe and healthy alternative to natural sunlight by limiting the harmful UVB rays and generating primarily the less dangerous UVA rays. While the controlled ultraviolet rays offered in tanning salons might be safer than uncontrolled exposure in the natural sunlight, that doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Fair-skinned types can still burn if they spend too much time in a tanning booth, and so can their darker-complexioned counterparts. Some medical experts concede that an artificial tan from a tanning salon is less dangerous than a natural suntan if you want to tan for a special occasion such as a prom or a wedding, but others believe that the concept of a “healthy tan” is an oxymoron. Therefore, use tanning salons in moderation if at all.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Putting moisturizer on a sunburn is kind of like putting a bandage on a cut. It won’t make the sunburn go away, but it can help it heal more quickly, and can help prevent long-term damage like premature wrinkling.
Even if you take all these precautions, you might occasionally find that your nose or shoulders turn pink after a long day outdoors. This is to be expected, especially on very warm and sunny days when you might perspire more, as your perspiration can dilute the sunscreen that you have so diligently applied.
When this happens, use it as an excuse to stay indoors for a few days until it fades, or at least go a bit heavier on the sunscreen, and use more moisturizer to counteract the drying effects of sun exposure on your skin.
Whether or not you have had frequent cases of sunburn, your doctor should be your partner in long-term skincare.
By examining your skin during your routine annual physical examinations, your doctor can identify possible signs of sun damage, including early cancer or precancerous lesions. Your doctor can also advise you on the latest state-of-the-art skin protection and treatment products.
Where sunburn is concerned, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By mastering the art of prevention, hopefully you will rarely, if ever, need to worry about a cure.