Most people are well aware of the pain caused by sunburn. However, sunburn isn’t just temporarily painful. It can lead to permanent skin damage. In fact, sunburn can lead to skin cancer, some forms of which are deadly.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with skin cancer. In the United States, it is the most common type of cancer. The malignant melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is known to end thousands of lives each year.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take long to be harmed by the sun. In fact, in just 15 minutes, skin can experience damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Though skin can be harmed in this amount of time, the full effects may not be noticeable for up to 12 hours. As such, skin that is just slightly pink may be affected by sunburn, showing the effects only hours later.
Those who experience serious sunburn before adulthood may be at increased risk for the development of malignant melanoma. Sadly, many people remain unaware of this fact and do not take the proper steps to protect themselves and their children from dangerous UV rays. It is estimated that only about 33% of Americans take precautionary measures to prevent sunburn and skin cancer.
It is possible, and even easy, to protect your skin from the sun. The first step in preventing sunburn is to seek out shady areas when outdoors. This is of particular importance during midday, as UV rays are capable of doing the most damage at this time of day. Sit under a beach umbrella or enjoy the cool shade of a large tree.
Next, be sure to stay covered when you're trying to avoid sunburn. Use clothing to protect your skin. A hat with a wide brim can be used to protect your face, neck, and ears from sunburn.
Sunglasses designed to block UV rays are important as well. It is best to choose a pair that blocks a high percentage of UV and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. Get a pair that blocks as close to 100% as possible.
Last, but not least, don’t forget the sunscreen. Make sure it offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. It should be no less than sun protection factor (SPF) 15. Remember, sunscreen isn’t just for preventing sunburn at the beach; use it whenever you venture outdoors.