7 Significant Facts About Sunburn and Sunscreen


With summer approaching, patients could probably use a refresher on the basics of sun protection.

With summer approaching, patients could probably use a refresher on the basics of sun protection.

Repeated sunburns can increase the risk for skin damage and certain diseases, including wrinkled skin, dark spots, rough spots, and skin cancers like melanoma. In fact,study resultssuggest that an individual’s risk of developing skin cancer doubles if he or she has experienced 5 or more episodes of sunburn.

Most patients know to take sun safety seriously, but retail clinicians should still remind them of the following facts about sunburn and sun protection:

1. Use sun care products each and every time you go outside.

For optimal sun safety, clinicians should advise patients to wear a hat and protective clothing in addition to using sunscreen throughout the entire sun exposure period.

Some generalcounseling pointsabout sunscreen include:

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Use sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB light.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours and after sweating or swimming.

2. Moisturize and stay hydrated after sunburn.

Sunburnt patients should apply a moisturizer that contains aloe, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid, since frequently moisturizing the affected area can help prevent peeling and flaking.

Sunburn also draws fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body, leaving patients susceptible to dehydration. Clinicians should advise patients to be self-aware of dehydration symptoms, including dry mouth, reduced urination, headache, and sleepiness.

3.Any exposed part of the body can burn.

Patients may not realize that any area of the body can get sunburnt, rather than just the shoulders, back, and face. Less commonly known areas that are susceptible to sunburn include the earlobes, lips, eyes, and scalp.

Eye damage is especially dangerous. Too much UV light can damage the retina, lens, and cornea, while sun damage can also lead to cataracts.

4. Ibuprofen or aspirin can help decrease related discomfort.

Taking ibuprofen or aspirin at the first sign of sunburn can help reduce swelling and redness that would otherwise occur. Clinicians should make sure that patients know that only products containing ibuprofen or aspirin provide this anti-inflammatory effect for sunburn, as acetaminophen products don’t.

5. Not all sunburns can be treated with self-care.

Patients should consult a health care professional if their sunburn doesn’t subside within 2 days.

Sometimes, sunburnt skin can become infected. Signs of such an infection include:

· Increased pain and tenderness

· Increased swelling

· Yellow drainage (pus) from an open blister

· Red streaks leading away from the open blister

6. Skin can still burn on cloudy days.

Patients should know that the sun doesn’t have to be out in order for them to burn.

According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 80% of UV rays pass through clouds, and snow, ice, sand, and water can reflect UV rays, burning skin just as severely as direct sunlight.

7. Some medications can increase the likelihood of sunburn.

There are several photosensitizing medications that can cause a healthy individual to become more sensitive to the sun, and thus more likely to burn.

Patients taking doxycycline, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, thiazide diuretics, furosemide, lamotrigine, antihistamines, or isoniazid should be aware of this risk.

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