No one wants a sunburn. It’s unattractive, painful and even dangerous to your health. As parents, it’s our goal to protect our kids from getting burned in the summer sun. Unfortunately, it is all too common to fall short on sunscreen and watch your child suffer from painful red skin after a day in the sun. Both kids and adults are vulnerable to sunburns. In fact, a survey conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation found that more than 70% of people reported getting sunburned in the past year, with 42% reporting at least one sunburn in the past month.
Sunburn occurs when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which can cause redness, pain, and peeling. While sunburns may seem like a temporary annoyance, they can actually be quite dangerous. At Spectrum Dermatology of Atlanta, we make it a priority to educate our patients about the dangers of unprotected skin under the Georgia sun.
The Real Threats of a Sunburn
A couple days of aloe and ice packs can soothe a bad sunburn. However, when your red skin fades or your sun blisters go away, the damage isn’t erased. There are some real and irreversible threats of a sunburn, including the following:
Sunburn is a leading cause of skin cancer. Repeated sunburns can damage the DNA in your skin cells, increasing your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Did you know that the American Academy of Dermatology reports that just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can more than double a person’s risk of developing melanoma later in life?
You can blame your early wrinkles on years of unprotected exposure to the sun. Sunburn has been proven to cause premature aging of the skin, including wrinkles, age spots, and a leathery texture.
UV radiation from the sun can also damage the eyes, leading to cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.
Immune System Suppression
Your skin in the largest organ in your body. It makes sense, therefore, that any damage to your skin can compromise your overall health. Sunburn can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections and illnesses.
In the same way that the sun can dry out your lawn, it can also deplete your body of needed moisture. Sunburn contributes to dehydration within your body works to repair the damaged skin.
To prevent sunburn and its associated dangers, our team at Spectrum Dermatology recommends wearing protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves, using sunscreen with a high SPF, and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm).
Why Do Some People Burn More Easily Than Others?
If you used the same sunscreen as your friend and spent the same amount of time outdoors, why do you have a painful sunburn and your friend doesn’t? There are several reasons why some people more prone to sunburns than others, including the following:
- Skin tone: People with fair skin, blonde or red hair, and light-colored eyes tend to have less melanin in their skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color and helps protect it from
- Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to burn more easily in the sun. Certain genes are associated with a higher risk of skin cancer and may make individuals more susceptible to sun damage.
- Medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics, can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn.
- Age: As we age, our skin becomes thinner and less able to protect itself from UV radiation. This can increase the risk of sunburn and other sun-related skin damage.
Regardless of skin type, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You can still suffer from sun-related skin damage even if you tan more than you burn.
To learn more about how to best protect your family’s skin from the sun this summer, please schedule an appointment at Spectrum Dermatology in Atlanta.