With summer just a few months away are you prepared to protect your skin from the sizzling Georgia sun? This is an important question, although skin cancers typically do not occur until adulthood, skin cancers usually come from sunburns that we had in our youth. One of the most relevant risk factors for skin cancer comes from sun exposure over long periods of time. That does not mean tanning for one long day, however, tanning over years and years. Malignant Melanoma has more than tripled since 1980, from 1 in 250 to 1 in 71. One person dies every hour in America from Melanoma. This disease used to be a concern only for the middle aged and elderly, however with tanning beds and the addiction to having a bronzing glow, the biggest increase in skin cancers age ranges is in the mid 20’s, this increase comes from an increase in sun exposure as a child and teen.
Why does your skin sunburn?
If you are Caucasian and do not normally have a tank then the cells in your skin are not protected from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. You are therefore an easy target for sunburns if you receive too much sun exposure, although any skin color or type can be damaged by the sun. With the excess ultraviolet exposure there is damage done at the cellular level, with this damage comes increased blood flow. The increased blood flow to the skin causes the “redness” that happens to the skin after a burn. Children are in the highest risk group for sunburns, more than half of a lifetime sunburns happen during childhood. Having fair skin also places you in a risk factor category.
With mild sunburns the skin is usually red and hot; the burn begins about six hours after exposure and peaks at 24 hours. This sunburn lasts about 3-5 days. A moderate to severe burn starts the same way, however it does not peak until at least 24 hours and can last days longer. There are also more extensive symptoms with this burn; nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, headache, and blistering are just a few. Risks associated with sunburns include increasing your risk of early wrinkles, premature aging, and most importantly skin cancer.
There are ways to treat severe sunburns some of these include, cool compress, oatmeal baths, alcohol free lotions, and creams. If a child with sunburn starts running a fever or developing blisters, a trip to the dermatologist may be in order. Sunburns in children can be very serious and may require topical steroids, steroid injections, and even hospitalization.
Anyone who does not protect themselves from the sun is at risk for sun damage. Everyone who spends any time outside should be wearing sun screen daily, the sunscreen should be applied to your face, arms, ears, and generally any body part that is exposed.
How can you protect yourself?
Protect yourself with barriers first, such as light clothing and hats. Sunscreen should be used on a daily basis, with an SPF of at least 15. The more fair you are the higher the sunscreen should be. Even children should wear a sunscreen daily. Also, avoiding the sun between 10:00 am and noon are very helpful. Fair skinned children should wear a sunscreen with SPF30 because their skin is thinner than adults. Any sunscreen you purchase should protect against both UVA A and UVA B rays and it should also have a physical sun block. Physical sun blocks include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Here at Kayal Dermatology we offer exclusive physician only cosmetic products such as La-Roche Posay. They offer an exceptional line of sun screens available only at a dermatologist office. For more information on La-Roche Posay Products visit their website here or read more about dermatologist recommended cosmetic products on our products page.
If you have spent too much time in the sun and would like to have your skin evaluated for skin caner or for treating sun damage please call and set up your appointment today at 770-426-7177.