Sunburn Prevention

Itâ??s finally summer and the pools and beaches are open! ã??Weâ??ll all be spending more time out in the sun! ã??But if we arenâ??t careful, a sunburn could sneak up on us! Dr. Puckett, from Complete Family Medicine, stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland to discuss sun exposure, its risk, and the consequences of not protecting our skin. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE to learn more.

Question: How can I ensure I am protected from the sun's UV rays?

Answer: During the sun protection times, use a combination of the five steps:

  • Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.

  • Slop on SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen liberally at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.

  • Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.

  • Seek shade.

  • Slide on sunglasses that meet UVA/B recommendations.

Question: Does a tan naturally protect you from the sun?

Answer: A tan offers very limited sun protection, usually similar to an SPF 4 sunscreen depending on your skin type, which is much lower than the recommended rating of SPF 30+. A tan does not protect against DNA damage or premature ageing. It is a sign that your skin cells are trying to protect themselves from UV damage. It is not a sign of good health.

Question: If I get a â??base tan' from a tanning bed before summer starts, will it help to stop me burning?

Answer: Tanning beds emit UV radiation that is up to six times stronger than the midday sun.Research shows that using tanning beds before the age of 35 boosts the risk of melanoma by 59%.In many areas of Europe and Australia they have been made illegal, and here in the US, two recent rules have changed. 1) In Missouri, starting later this year, anyone under 18 will have to have a signed parental consent to tan, update yearly. The consent will outline the risks associated with tanning. Also, the FDA has issued a â??black boxâ?? warning that will be included on all tanning beds.

Question: Is it possible to get sunburnt on cloudy or cool days?

Answer: Yes. Sunburn is caused by UV radiation not temperature therefore even on a cooler day in summer, the UV level can be intense. You can also get sunburnt on cloudy days, as UV radiation can penetrate some clouds, and may even be more intense due to reflection from the bottom of the clouds.

Will I become vitamin D deficient if I use sunscreen?

Sunscreen use should not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency. When UV levels are 3 and above, most people get enough vitamin D through normal activity, even with sunscreen. Prolonged use of sunscreen has been shown to not affect long term vitamin D levels â?? this is because most people generally do not apply enough sunscreen and often forget to reapply.

In summer, just a few minutes of sun exposure outside peak UV periods provides adequate vitamin D. During winter, most need two to three hours a week of midday winter sun exposure spread over a week to help with vitamin D levels. People with naturally very dark skin may need more sun exposure. ã??A supplement can overcome this need.

Question: I'm sunburnt. What should I do?

Answer: Sunburn at any age, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can lay the groundwork for skin cancer later in life. Your lifetime tally of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, together with the number of severe sunburns, increases your risk of skin cancer.

Sunburn is the skin's reaction to the UV in sunlight. You can see sunlight and feel heat (infrared radiation), but you can't see or feel UV radiation. It can damage your skin even on cool, cloudy days.

In our summer months, the signs of sunburn can start to appear in less than 11 minutes and can take days or weeks to heal depending on the severity. Mild sunburn can be treated at home, but severe and blistered burns require prompt medical attention.

The long-term effects of repeated bouts of sunburn include premature wrinkling and increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma (a type of skin cancer). Once skin damage occurs, it is impossible to reverse. This is why prevention is much better than cure.

Sunburn can be grouped by seriousness:

  • first-degree sunburn: mild sunburn that reddens and inflames the skin

  • second-degree sunburn: more serious reddening of the skin and water blisters

  • third-degree sunburn: requires medical attention; you should see your doctor if you experience blistering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain.

There is no cure for sunburn except time and patience. Treatment aims to help manage the symptoms while the body heals. Suggestions include:

  • Drink plenty of water because you're probably dehydrated as well as sunburnt.

  • Gently apply cool or cold compresses. Alternatively, bathe the area in cool water.

  • Avoid using soap as this may irritate your skin.

  • Do not apply butter to sunburnt skin.

  • Talk to your local pharmacist about products that help soothe sunburn. Choose spray-on solutions rather than creams you apply by hand.

  • Don't pop blisters. Consider covering itchy blisters with a wound dressing to reduce the risk of infection.

  • Pain permitting, moisturise the skin. This won't stop the burnt skin from peeling off, but it will help boost the moisture content of the skin beneath.

  • Take over-the-counter painkillers, if necessary.

  • Keep out of the sun until every last sign of sunburn has gone.

  • Resist the temptation and don't pick at the skin. Allow the dead skin sheets to detach on their own.

  • Apply antiseptic cream to the newly revealed skin to reduce the risk of infection.

  • You should see your doctor or seek treatment from your nearest hospital emergency department if you experience symptoms including:

  • Severe sunburn with extensive blistering and pain

  • Sunburn over a large area

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fever

  • Dizziness or altered states of consciousness.

Sunburn prevention is best. Always check the sun protection times on the free SunSmart app and use a combination of sun protection measures when required.

Complete Family Medicine1611 S. Baltimore

Kirksville, MO. 63501