Save Your Skin
How dangerous is a sunburn?
Summer is here, which means it’s time to step up sun protection.
Damage to skin from sunburn can be both long-term and short-term. Immediate effects are sore and red skin that is tender or painful to the touch, followed by peeling and itchiness. However, long-term damage can also be caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
The two main types of long-term skin damage from sunburn are increased aging of the skin and skin cancer. Damage from UV rays can accelerate the skin’s natural aging process, causing skin to become more leathery and wrinkled than it would be otherwise. And as we are exposed to more sun, freckles, moles and lesions can appear on the surface, particularly if we are light-skinned. These lesions can be precursors to skin cancer, which can begin as just a spot on the skin.
Follow these sun protection basics
Fortunately, being prepared for a day out in the sun helps to prevent skin cancer or other skin damage. This entails:
- BE CAREFUL MID-DAY: Avoid the sun or cover up with clothing, hats and sunscreen during its peak hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- COVER UP: Cover yourself when you head out with a hat with a wide brim, a long-sleeve shirt, sunglasses to protect your eyes, or all three.
- USE SUNCREEN: Use a topical sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and make sure it also has protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Know Your Moles
Inova Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center provides screening for melanoma. Learn more at inova.org/skin or call 703-970-6430.