Megan Johnson McCullough –The quest for the perfect tan can have a person sitting or lying in the sun for hours with very little attire. Then the person is left looking like a lobster, beat red from exposure with the intention that tomorrow the golden brown will settle in. Even with all of today’s warnings and information, plenty of people enjoy soaking up the sun’s rays. According to the CDC, 1/3 of adults admit being sunburned in the past year and 70% of children admit the same.
Getting a sunburn isn’t rocket science. The skin will burn when exposed to the sun for too long. On the surface, the skin turns really red. There is also damage occurring under the skin. The sun’s rays come in three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB penetrate the skin, while UVC doesn’t reach the Earth’s surface. Therefore, sun damage isn’t always visible. Under the skin, the sun’s rays actually change DNA. This causes the skin to age. DNA that has been damaged due to this exposure which can also cause skin cancer, specifically melanoma. Despite the warnings and risks, some people claim they don’t get sunburned. The severity of the burn does depend on skin type, how intense the sun was at the time of exposure, and how long the skin was actually exposed to the sun. Sometimes a sunburn can even result in blistering. Under the surface, the skin is working to get rid of damaged cells which causes the peeling effect.
Treatment for a sunburn involves trying to get rid of the redness and swelling. Plenty of at home remedies are effective. Aloe, menthol, camphor, are creams and gels that many people use and are easy to purchase. Anti-inflammatory drugs are another option. Staying out of the sun and not re-exposing the burn is important. Keeping hydrated helps to.
It is recommended to stay out of the sun between the peak hours of 10am to 4pm. Staying in the shade is good too. Sun-protective clothing and wearing a hat are good protective methods. Using sunscreen is critical, especially the broad-spectrum type. Applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure will help reduce the risk of burn and even if it overcast, apply it anyways. Every two hours, this sunscreen should be reapplied. It should be applied even sooner if a person is sweating or immersed in water.
Golden, tan skin is of course an attractive confidence booster, but not at the risk of cancer. When we were young and didn’t know, well that may be an excuse. However, now with all we know there is no reason to continue to burn the skin and exposure yourself to threat of melanoma and pre-mature aging.
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