The basics of How Do I Prevent Sunburn often get overlooked. This little poster gives you an idea of how easy it is to stay safe in the sun.
The Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah use this small poster to help share their information on protecting your skin from the sun.
If I were making one of these small posters for those readers living in my part of central Texas, I would also add paying attention to the time of day. Staying out of the most direct sun which for us happens from 10 AM until 4 PM.
- Stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Cover your skin with sun blocking hats, sunglasses, and sun blocking shirts and pants.
- Apply sunscreen to your face, and any other exposed skin like your hands and feet.
- Stay hydrated.
The heat has been excessive this year. This has brought on a heat wave that is lasting all summer! According to the weather reports on KVUE, Austin Texas, 3 days of above-average heat in a row is considered a heat wave.
I have no name for our 100* or higher days this spring and summer. I believe we have 50 days at this writing. With August and September to go.
However, temperature alone is not the only reason for being careful when you are out in the sun. You will get a sunburn at 90* almost as quickly as you will at 100* plus. The heat of the air isn’t the only factor in how fast you can sunburn.
What Is Sunburn
According to Simple English Wikipedia:
The ultraviolet part of sunlight breaks down natural chemicals in the skin. This makes the skin become red. A sunburn can be painful. Sunburns may last for days or even weeks, according to the severity of the burn.”
As we learn more about the dangers of sunburn and the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it is apparent why we are having more sunburn turn into skin cancer than our parents did.
We are into more outside fun events than our parents, as well as a slowly disappearing ozone layer.
Learning to protect your skin from sun exposure will give you a head start in healthier skin.
Sunburn is simply the skin being burned by too many minutes of sun exposure, or heaven forbid sunbed exposure. Please don’t let this be about you getting a tan in a sunbed!
Yes, you can get a sunburn, and get it quickly using a sunbed. A sunbed does not give you a safe tan.
Nor does it give you a safe start for getting a tan.
It does give you a free ride to looking older and getting skin cancer!
Why Do I Sunburn So Quickly
Have you wondered why you burn so quickly? Some of us can burn in minutes, in fact, most of us will burn in minutes.
It takes such a short time for my skin to start turning pink! At least it seems short when you are out in the sun having fun!
If I am honest with myself, I am fortunate that I have had as few sunburns as I have, as careless as I have been. It is true that it was careless exposure because of my ignorance. During the time in life that I was getting most exposed to the sun, I was living with a bulletproof mindset.
I knew I didn’t want to be wrinkled like the friends who had such deep tans, but I did want that dark tan. Skin cancer was not talked about so much and there were few cases of it in our world.
Genetics was not a work I had ever been very aware of. Yes, it was a long time ago, I know. We know different now. Tans are not safe.
Do you have:
Light-colored skin? Do you turn pink quickly in the sun? Freckle?
Blue, green, or light grey colored eyes?
And do you have light-colored hair?
Your skin cancer risks are high. Even if you don’t normally sunburn quickly you are still considered high risk.
Medium skin, eyes, and hair color put you in the medium risk category. You do have to be careful as well. You can just safely handle a few more minutes in the sun, without sunburn.
Then we have the ones of us who are darker skin tones and have darker hair and eyes. Your risks are lower for sunburn or skin cancer, but you do still have risks. You will just get a few more safe minutes before sunburn starts. Just remember, it may take longer, but it will get there.
Our Skin Is Fragile
This is why we have to protect this human body sock. Our skin is a bit like a sock that fits our whole body. When new, it is strong and healthy. It will protect us from infections, and keep our body temperature at a safe level, during summer and winter.
Like a sock, it protects us when out in the world. This skin of ours presents a barrier to disease and infections. If the sock is whole and has no unhealthy worn spots, you are safe. But what if there is a weak spot across your shoulders or on your arms where you got a sunburn?
OK, so you survived and got off scot-free when you sunburned last year, do you think you can this year? Are you sure you received no DNA damage? What about sunburn when you were in high school and played tennis? Had you forgotten that?
One of the main points of danger for our skin is that damage is accumulative. If you are careless, you look up one day and have problems.
The autoimmune diseases are just now coming to our attention, because of their reaction to overexposure to the sun. Of course, technology is affirming the relationship between too much sun and this condition. Check out the Center For Disease Control for more information.
This is just another of the lesser-known dangers of too much sun.
Is UPF Clothing Better Than Sunscreen
The question exists in all our minds. How can sun blocking clothing be better than sunscreen? As we are now able to access more technology and have more coordination with results and the factors that are in the diagnosis, new data can be used to keep us safer.
The reason the numbers are raising is that so many of us are changing how we dress. People wear tank tops, and shorts, day in and day out. While these feel cooler and more comfortable than our jeans and long-sleeve shirts, we are raking up some major sun exposure.
This left a market for cool long-sleeve shirts and pants. In normal everyday clothes, you have to have heavy fabric that is tightly woven to keep the sun from getting through to our skin. No one was interested in that! So the marketers got started working on the problem and came up with all the lightweight skin-protecting clothing.
The clothing to protect you from the sun only works if you wear it! It has to be on your body to protect you. The manufacturers have done a great job of protecting your skin.
They have given you clothes that breathe.
In the case of the guy with the sunburn in the picture, he could have stayed safer by making sure the brim of his hat kept the sun off his neck. If that wasn’t possible, an application of sunscreen would have helped. Yes, it would need to be reapplied every 90 minutes to 2 hours but would have helped prevent sunburn.
You may not be in the habit of considering your sun hat and sunglasses to be UPF clothing but they are. They are number 1 and 2 in a list of the most important items to have in your skin protection toolbox.
Sami’s Take On How Do I Prevent Sunburn
Sunburn is a subject that is dear to my heart. Seeing so much damage done to my family from being careless and unaware of skin safety.
Sure, we probably had some warnings, but let them go in one ear and out the other. Don’t let that happen to you and your family.
Pay attention. Your awareness will make you see things you have overlooked that may have seemed unimportant before. If you only improve your sun awareness a little, it can help your skin stay safer from skin cancer.
If you become aware of the dangers of the more direct sun times of the day. Change your schedule to make time before 10 AM and after 4 PM for fun in the sun, that is a start.
Maybe the next day you will remember to grab your sunhat. We are already fairly good about remembering sunglasses because in our bright sun here in Central Texas we need them every day! Maybe you appreciate how important they are and can help your kids learn to wear them.
These are all small steps, but we will be so grateful to have healthier skin that can keep our bodies healthier. Being so familiar with our dermatologist was not what I thought I wanted to do at this time in my life.
There went that expectation, down the drain. Now I am just grateful to have access to a great one to take the skin cancers off my arms and face. I am grateful my kids have access to good dermatology care as well.
Are you taking better care of your skin? Is there some small thing you can change about your lifestyle to make your skin safer from the sun?
Will you remember to wear sun blocking clothing and use sunscreen to help protect your skin? What about lifestyle changes? Come on, you can do it.