How to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer & Other Tips to Stay Sun Safe

Juliet Plastic

1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Skin cancer is most common cancer in the United States with over 3.5 million skin cancers affecting 2 million people a year. Skin cancer has been on the rise in the past three decades. With more than half of American adults reporting a sunburn within the past year, we are literally cooking and even killing ourselves.

What happens when you get sunburned?

A sunburn is literally what it sounds like-the sun is burning your skin. The sun has three types of rays, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach Earth or us. UVA or Ultra Violet Rays are long waves and go deep into our skin, while UVB rays are short waves, but still go into our skin and cause damage. When skin is over exposed to the sun the body revolts with side effects, one of which is a sunburn.  Skin gets red, sore, itchy and in some severe cases blisters and then peels. Severe sunburns can also cause nausea, headaches, dehydration, fever and fatigue. If you experience a high fever due to a sun burn seek medical attention immediately.

Are you at risk?

Everyone is at risk for a sunburn! Main risk factors that will determine if you burn or tan, are skin type, how long you are exposed to the sun and the proximity of the sun. For example a blonde, fair skinned, light eyed person will burn faster than an olive toned complexion. The closer you are to the sun, the higher your risk of burning(think high altitudes and climates close to the equator). UV rays are stronger during the warmer months May-August, but sunburns and UV damage can still happen during cold months.

Tips to protect yourself:

Stay out of the sun from 10am-3pm(when it is most intense)

-Wear a hat with a broad rim preferably made out of UV protective material

-Wear UVA/UVB blocking clothing

-Wear UV blocking sunglasses

-Always wear a broad spectrum SPF30 or higher

-Reapply sunscreen every 30-60 minutes if in direct sun

-Reapply SPF after swimming

-Wear gloves to protect the tops of hands

How to treat a sunburn?

If you happen to get burned there are a few things to ease the pain. Take a cool shower or bath and then apply a serum or moisturizer that contains soothing ingredients like oatmeal, honey, milk, or organic red tea. Organic red tea helps to minimize redness, irritation and inflammation. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and can be added to a bath. Honey minimizes pain and helps to speed up healing. A cool milk compress coats the skin with a protein barrier which helps with pain and reduces heat. Taking ibuprofen can help as well. Do not go in the sun if you already have a sunburn-this will make it worse. If symptoms worsen or a fever develops seek medical attention.

The sun feels good and we need Vitamin D it provides, but it doesn’t have to burn us. Education and protection are the best defense!


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