Here Comes the Sun!
We wait for it all winter long and then there it is – that glorious sunshine! It literally and emotionally brightens our day. But we also need to be careful of its effects when we stay outside as the days get longer. Sunburn can be a bad side effect of soaking up those warm rays.
The first signs of a sunburn may not appear for a few hours. By the time the skin starts to become painful and red, the damage has already been done. The pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after your exposure to the sun. In severe sunburns, your skin may blister.
If you have a sunburn you can try a few things at home to relieve the pain. Take a cool bath or shower or apply a cool, clean damp towel to your injured skin. Apply aloe vera or moisturizing lotion several times a day. Take over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen.
The flip side is what not to put on your skin if you have sunburn. Don’t use petroleum jelly, butter, egg whites or other home remedies on your sunburned skin. They can actually prevent or delay healing.
If you or a loved one experience the following symptoms after sun exposure, call a healthcare provider immediately or go to your nearest emergency room:
- fever or chills
- nausea or vomiting
- the sunburned person is a child under a year old
- the burn has blisters or the skin appears white or is numb
Soaking up the sun for extended periods of time can put you at risk for possible complications. If your skin blisters and the blisters rupture, you are at risk for bacterial infection. Also, you could be accelerating the aging process of your skin, a condition called Photoaging that can leave you with deep wrinkles, freckles, large brown lesions, fine red veins on your cheeks, nose and ears or even thinner, more translucent skin.
Other even more intense issues could include Actinic Keratoses, considered a precancerous condition that appears as rough scaly patches in sun-exposed areas, skin cancer and/or eye damage.
Prevention is the best way to be “sun safe”
We all want to enjoy the sunshine and have fun outside, so be sure to take preventative measures so that you can continue to enjoy it every day and not have any sun side effects.
Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to help protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Loose, lightweight shirts will also provide an appropriate amount of protection, but the most important item to wear is sunscreen.
The American Cancer Society encourages the “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap” method to protecting you and your loved ones from the sun’s harmful rays:
- Slip on a shirt – wear clothes to protect your skin
- Slop on sunscreen – a palmful every two hours and more often if you are swimming or sweating
- Slap on a hat – a wide brim hat is best to protect your ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp
- Wrap on sunglasses – choose glasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation
With so many products on the shelf, how do you choose what’s best for you? While no sunscreen will block all UV rays, a broad-spectrum sunscreen which contains active chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients is a good choice. Broad spectrum sunscreens contain ingredients to protect against exposure to both UVB and UVA lights.
Read the Label
Look for three active ingredients when you’re selecting your sunscreen:
- Padimate O (Octyldimethyl PABA), Homosalate, Octisalate (Octyl salicylate), or Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate or OCM) for blocking UVB rays.
- Avobenzone (Parsol 1789) or Ecamsule (Mexoryl) for blocking UVA rays.
- Octocrylene, Titanium Dioxide, or Zinc Oxide for blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater
- Water resistance (up to 40 or 80 minutes)
When using sunscreen, one key thing to remember is that regardless of the SPF or whether its waterproof, it’s important to re-apply sunscreen every two hours to make sure the ingredients are still active. For more information, go to SkinCancer.org and search “sunscreen” and talk with your dermatologist about skin and sun safety.
Did you know?
Sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who regulates sunscreen safety and effectiveness and governs the manufacture and marketing of all sunscreen products including safety data.