NO, to the question, “Is it Ok to get a little sunburn?” Not even a slight sunburn is safe.
Is it OK to get a little sunburn? Come on, what do you think? Even keeping this baby in the sun long enough for the photo is too long for his fragile skin.
Your skin may be more mature, and won’t burn as quickly, but don’t take the risk of more than a quick time of exposure to the sun.
This baby picture is also a good example of how to cover a baby if you are going to be out at all. Having arms covered all the way is a better choice. We have been careless enough with our skin, and it probably started fairly early.
Keeping the sun off your bare unprotected skin is important to the overall skin protection plan.
How Long Can You Stay Out In The Sun Without Sunburn?
My dermatologist tells me that 20 minutes in the sun without sunscreen before 10 AM or after 4 PM should be safe for my skin. This is based on the weather we have here in central Texas in the warmer months. This is working out great, as it is about 5 minutes longer than I want to be in the sun!
Even with my knowledge of how damaging the sun can be on our skin, we do need some direct sun for good health.
Our dermatologist says that, as long as there aren’t complications when you get sun directly on bare skin, with a reasonable amount of 15 to 20 minutes a day, you should not sunburn in this amount of time, and at these times of the day. This amount of time, 3 or 4 days a week will allow your body to make enough Vitamin D.
If you turn a bit red on your cheeks or arms in 20 minutes, don’t risk that long, 10 or 15 minutes may be enough for you. We are not clones, and our reaction time is individualized as well. Stay aware and stay safe from too much sun.
Your Sunburn Risk In A Nutshell
Remember the variables of how close you live to the equator, your skin’s usual response to being in the sun, and how clean your air is. When your air is full of pollution, it can block some of the UV light. However, with less Ozone, this offers less protection overall.
Other Benefits From Safe Sun Exposure
We are warned so much about how dangerous the sun is, and this is true, the sun is tough on your skin after a short while. However, research shows definite benefits to some sun on your skin.
Exposure to sunlight can be a mood booster. Here again, moderation is the key to staying safe and getting the good parts of sun exposure, not the bad ones. Do that by being aware of the time of day it is and how long the sun has been shining on your skin. There are benefits for moods, even while wearing sunscreen.
Better sleep is another benefit of reasonable amounts of exposure to the sun. In the months of less sunlight, remember to let the sunshine on your arms and your face for 10 to 15 minutes. ( Actually, applying sunscreen and going directly into the sun is usually safe for most of us. By the time the sunscreen is effective, you will have had the recommended 15 minutes of safe sun. )
Helping your circadian rhythm stay on track is also another benefit of regular early morning sunshine. Be careful if getting your exposure later in the day. (These repeating 24-hour cycles are called the circadian rhythm. Your body attempts to regulate your sleep or wake cycle to what is happening in the environment. When it gets light or dark outside, when you eat, and when you are physically active.)
Caution Full Sun In Direct Sun Time
Because of the risks associated with too much sun exposure, make sure to limit your exposure time. If you are spending more time in the sun, remember your sun blocking hat, sunglasses, and your sun blocking clothing.
Remember to add sunscreen SPF 30 or above. Unprotected and unlimited sun exposure can result in sun rashes and sunburns.
Too much time in the sun also increases your chances of developing melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer. Our sun has been this deep gold color a lot this hot dry summer.
Why You Should Avoid Sunburn
Questions: “It is just one sunburn, what harm can that do?”
Answer: “A surprising amount of damage for a one-time event.” That one-time single sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
The burn itself does not affect your risk so much, but the amount of sun exposure that’s associated with that burn. So longer is not better. Once you realize there is sunburn, get out of the sun.
In the days following a sunburn, your burned skin usually peels off. This is how your body is getting rid of the cells that are at risk of becoming cancerous.
If you are exposing your skin to the sun after a sunburn the deeper layers of your skin absorb UV radiation from the sunlight. With additional sun exposure, your skin cells’ genetic material can become damaged. This DNA damage leads to a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Why Do I Sun Burn So Quickly?
“Light-skinned people have less melanin in their skin cells than people with darker skin.”
(Melanin in most people is a dark pigment that provides some sun protection. The darker your skin tones the more melanin you have.)
People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are vulnerable to sun damage. However, your risk is higher when you have:
Very Fair Skin
If you freckle easily
Have Red Or Light Blonde Colored Hair
Have light-colored eyes, blue, green, grey, or combos of light colors
Are exposed to sunlight that is reflected off water or snow
Do You live in higher altitudes or near the equator?
Do you drive all day at work?
Is your primary work area outside?
Are you outside many hours a week participating in a sport?
This is a risk factor we forget often:
Do you take medications that make you more sensitive to the sun?
Do My Medications Make Me Sunburn Quicker?
This is a list of known medications from the FDA. These are known medications that cause reactions. There are more!
- Antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, tetracycline, trimethoprim)
- Antifungals (flucytosine, griseofulvin, voriconazole)
- Antihistamines (cetirizine, diphenhydramine, loratadine, promethazine, cyproheptadine)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (simvastatin, atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin)
- Diuretics (thiazide diuretics: hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, chlorothiazide.; other diuretics: furosemide and triamterene)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, piroxicam, ketoprofen)
- Oral contraceptives and estrogens
- Phenothiazines (tranquilizers, anti-emetics: examples, chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, promethazine, thioridazine, prochlorperazine)
- Psoralens (methoxsalen, trioxsalen)
- Retinoids (acitretin, isotretinoin)
- Sulfonamides (acetazolamide, sulfadiazine, sulfamethizole, sulfamethoxazole, sulfapyridine, sulfasalazine, sulfisoxazole)
- Sulfonylureas for type 2 diabetes (glipizide, glyburide)
- Alpha-hydroxy acids in cosmetics
The FDA also reminds us that not everyone who takes or uses the medicines mentioned will have a reaction.
Also, just because you experience a reaction on one occasion, it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to have a reaction if you use the product again. Next time, it might not be an issue.
Am I Safe In Sun Blocking Clothing?
This illusive nature of allergies and individual skin reactions makes it difficult to always be safe without avoiding too much sun.
Sun Blocking clothing is a safe alternative for protecting your skin for you. Sun hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeve loose-fitting shirts with a collar will give you the best form of sun protection. Add sunscreen to your face and the backs of your hand.
You Can’t Flirt With Sunburn And Stay Safe
You were just planning to get a little sun for the sake of Vitamin D? That’s what you were doing when you were out there soaking up those UV Rays?
That sunburn may fade back to natural-looking skin. Then again, maybe it won’t. Sure, the color may go away, but that damage is there forever.
Your body will naturally produce melanin, to stop UV rays from damaging the skin cells. This melanin may be in the form of a tan, or freckles for some.
Genetics determines how much melanin your body will produce, and for some, it’s not enough to keep your skin safe.
Getting too much UV light causes the skin to burn. However, it is usually about four hours after exposure to the sun before you start to notice your skin is red and sore.
Sunburn is uncomfortable. your sunburn is a sign your body is repairing the damaged skin. How long a sunburn lasts depends on how bad the burn is.
Healing Up Time Will Reflect How Severe Your Sunburn Is
Here you see the usual healing times:
- With mild sunburns typically result in redness and some pain and can last 3 to 5 days.
- Then moderate sunburns can leave your skin red, swollen, and hot to the touch. This type of burn can take about a week to heal completely.
- If you have a severe sunburn, it can cause painful blistering or very red skin. Severe sunburn can take up to two weeks for a full recovery.
Sunburn is not a mild injury. Severe sunburn will leave a trail of sun-damaged skin cells that cause can serious unrepairable damage.
Sunburn provides places for skin cancer to grow. Do you really want to find out if you have used up all your free times to heal from sunburn with no visible issues?
Most of us don’t get over skin cancer. Once we start going to have small spots “taken care of,” it is only a matter of time until we go back.
So when I saw the following headline, it struck a spot in my experiences with skin cancer.
You Never Really Stop Watching For Skin Cancer
Once you have skin cancer, you will probably have repeated spots that will need attention. You can clear up that spot, but you have to keep paying attention to your skin. Most people do experience more episode of skin cancer.
Too many people make the remark, “Its only skin cancer, its not that serious.” I wish you could have known the member of my family who had the first skin cancer on their nose. Many surgeries and skin grafts later I think he would have argued the serious nature of skin cancer.
OK, so those of you who do have darker tones in your skin can stay safe longer than people like me who freckle so quickly. I have been more careful since my last dermatologist visit. My sun blocking hats are getting lots of wear.
You have no guarantee, that if your skin is a darker tone, it will still react to the sun exposure after a while. There may never be skin cancer, but are you wanting all the early aging stuff? You are guaranteed to have that.
A hot dry summer has lessened the need for being out in the sun for yard work. No rain, too much heat, and nothing grows.
So my skin is getting a real reprieve. Have you taken a moment to figure out what you can do to not have to start the skin cancer cycle:
Find a questionable spot on my skin where it isn’t healing correctly.
Get check out at the doc’s office? Ignore it? Watch it grow?
Back to the doc’s office. Surgery. Heal.
Forget my sun hat. Get a little bit of sunburn. Uh-Oh.
Cheek has a raw scaley spot. Is it skin cancer? Call for an appointment. Well, now you know why you are never really “over” skin cancer.
What Does Sun Protective Clothing Mean?
Let’s check out what Wikipedia says about sun protective clothing.
There are several descriptions that manufacturers have tried to tie to their products. One wonders if is this a true description or just a marketing tactic.
Sun Blocking Clothing is a term, kind of like a “cowboy” hat. You immediately have an image in your mind. Some might not connect with the words “Panama” hat. Sun protection clothing is another description that may not be as well known.
UPF is a scale for the way clothing is graded on how much of the UV rays are blocked. The terminology is probably the most recognized as being associated with how much of the sun would be blocked out.
So, much ado about a name. UPF-rated clothing has some common factors to allow us to understand what is needed to block the sun. As we all get familiar with the characteristic of sun blocking fabrics, we will all benefit from the testing.
First, all clothes block some sun. If you are going to get something from your closet to protect you from the sun, you should look for:
Tightly woven fabric like denim. If you can see through the fabric, the sun can get through to you!
The garment is a loose fit. You need to get air around you to allow the sweat to dry and some air to circulate.
A collar is important for the shirt. A hoodie is good for extra sun protection.
Choose a darker color. Darker or brighter colors keep you safer. Think navy, deep green and purple, red, and brown. Black of course.
To be protected in lighter colors, you will need to check out the UPF clothing that is specially woven or dyed, or constructed to protect you from the sun. Make sure the labels are there and they will tell you the strength of the sun that will be blocked.
Chose at least a UPF of 30, 50 is even better. Anything over 50 UPF means that some special “beefing up” of the protection has happened. UPF 50 means that the sun is about 98% blocked.
Do I Really Need UPF Clothing?
When we are talking UPF clothing, you should think first about a sun blocking hat! Your hat and your sunglasses are the 1st layers of sun protection.
A tightly woven hat, with a brim that is at least 3-inches wide or wider. Sunglasses that block the UV of at least 98%. I still have trouble remembering that our hats and sunglasses are sun blocking clothing!
Your head has to be protected. That is where more skin cancers appear. Your head, ears, noses, necks, cheeks, and foreheads. Our lips are also vernable. The sun reaches this portion of your body first. We have to protect ourselves.
Your sunglasses may already be important and already in your mind for use to protect yourself from skin cancer, as well as early eye damage. To keep your eyes healthy and have better vision through the years, wear your sunglasses in summer and winter when you are in the sun.
Sami’s Take On Is It OK To Get A Little Sunburn?
Even a little sunburn will start the ball rolling for skin problems for you and your family. Wearing sun blocking clothing can protect you with just a bit of sunscreen on your face.
Your hat does the shading and protecting, but the sunscreen will protect you from the reflections that are present in your world. Your sunglasses will help protect the skin around your eyes as well as your eyes.
A long sleeve loose-fitting shirt with a collar will protect your torso, and keep the sun off the major portion of your body.
Long pants and skirts also are a protection factor, so much a fashion statement when out in the sun!
Shoes to protect your feet when involved in your outdoor adventures are a safer way to go for your feet.
Protecting yourself from the sun is as much about learning what you need, choosing those items to cover your skin that you don’t already have.
Staying safe from the sun is a matter of common sense with some caution.
Choose safer times of the day to get out in the sun. Early morning before 10 AM and afternoons after 4 PM.
If you are out midday, use shade. If there is no shade, take an umbrella. Don’t stand in the open bright sun with no protection.
I don’t have any idea why we have lived so long thinking we could keep our skin healthy when we have been so careless in it’s care.
It will be easier to take care of your skin as you become aware of the rules.
Shade is important to protect you. If you have to work in the bright sun, wear your hat unless a safety hat is required. Remember your sunglasses, and cover every inch of your body with clothing that you can. Umbrellas, pop-up tents, and sunshades can help.
Don’t expect others to be aware of what you need. Speak up and take care of yourself. How will you use your new awareness of the importance of sun blocking clothing?