With summer right around the corner everyone seems anxious to spend free
time outside enjoying the sunshine and beautiful weather, but parents
– be warned…the sun is more dangerous than you think. While
getting that bronze glow may feel like an added bonus to spending more
time outside playing with your kids, it’s actually your body’s
response to an injury. There is no such thing as a “safe”
tan, unless it is a fake one, according to the
“Studies have shown that if you suffer five severe burns in your younger years,
your risk of skin cancer increases up to 80%,” said Dr. Amanda Bailey of
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Claremont. “This means that it’s vital that you protect your child’s
skin in their youth. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in
the US, but luckily, there are many ways to reduce your risk.”
Understanding what causes skin damages is a good start to understanding
the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family. Ultraviolet rays
are the main cause of skin cancer. They are invisible rays of radiation
that come from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. There are three forms,
but the most dangerous and most prevalent on the Earth’s surface
is UVA; it can get through the top layer of our skin and cause some serious damage.
Sunscreen can be a literal lifesaver when it comes to skin cancer. It is
important to apply it 15 minutes before sun exposure and every two hours
after to get complete protection. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) needs
to be at least 30 in order to be effective. Be sure that your sunscreen
is broad spectrum, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays still damage the skin. Reflective
surfaces like water increase the strength of the rays on your skin, so
having sunscreen is a must for spending days at the pool or the beach.
Sunscreen covers the skin, but your eyes are at risk to sun damage as well.
It is important to shield your eyes with hats or sunglasses that have
UV protection. Constant direct sunlight to the eyes can lead to cataracts
later in life.
Staying out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day, 10am to 4pm,
is the best way to keep your skin safe. The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) publishes a
UV index map everyday where you can track the strength of the UV rays in your area.
If you do get burnt, Dr. Bailey suggests:
- Stay hydrated
- Take an anti inflammatory, like ibuprofen, to reduce redness after sun exposure
- Use aloe Vera and moisturizers for pain relievers
- If you blister, let them heal without bursting
- Be aware of sun poisoning
Playing outside is a great way to spend time with family and stay active,
but just remember to take care of your skin. If you notice any changes
in your skin or moles, contact your family medicine provider. To make
an appointment with Amanda Bailey at
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Claremont located at 2890 South Lookout Street, call 828.459.7324.