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What Is Your Sunburn Risk?

Do you know your sunburn risk? Do you know what happens when you get sunburned?

What is your sunburn risk? Is it high? Where are you in your knowledge about your personal risk? For those with a high risk, even small amounts of sunlight exposure can cause damage to your skin cells.

Updated 5/12/23

Sunburn dangers

Knowing what your sunburn risk is can be a giant step in better care for your skin. If you know that the poison ivy growing on the fence will cause a miserable skin rash if you touch it, you won’t touch it!

Even if it means jumping higher to clear it. Or walking around the fence to get to the other side.

How Sunburns Increase Your Risk Of Skin Cancer

As we mentioned earlier, even a single sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

But how many sunburns does it take to actually get skin cancer?

The answer is not straightforward because it depends on various factors, such as your skin type, the intensity of UV exposure, and your history of sun exposure.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who have had five or more sunburns in their lifetime are twice as likely to develop melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Your risk increases each time your skin gets burned. Your skin accumulates more DNA damage.

This damage can lead to mutations and cancerous growth over time.

However, this doesn’t mean that having less than five sunburns is safe or that having more than five sunburns guarantees you will get skin cancer.

It’s just a general guideline that highlights the cumulative effects of sun damage. Basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma are far more common forms of skin cancer and are the ones that can be cured, usually. If ignored, the risk of spreading does as well.

Is Getting One Sunburn a Cumulative Risk?

Yes, having just one sunburn can increase your overall risk of skin cancer.

It’s important to note that getting even one sunburn can have long-lasting consequences. As we know sunburns can cause skin cells’ genetic material to become damaged.

This is where the DNA damage occurs. This damage increases the risk of mutations and cancerous growth.

And some studies suggest that experiencing a single blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life.

Remember, the bottom line is that every sunburn counts, and the more you can do to prevent them, the better.

What is your sunburn risk?

How Much Does Sunburn Increase Risk?

The amount of risk that sunburn can add to your overall skin cancer risk depends on various factors:

Your age

Skin type

The severity of the burn.

Generally, the more severe the sunburn, the greater the risk of developing skin cancer.

My dermatologist says that people who have suffered severe sunburns as children or teenagers had a 60% higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Overall, it’s difficult to quantify the exact amount of risk that a sunburn can add because it depends on many individual factors. However, what we do know is that sunburns can be serious and should be avoided as much as possible.

At What Point Should I Be Worried About Sunburn?

If you’ve experienced a sunburn, it’s important to keep an eye on the affected area. Was the affected area on your face? Across your shoulders?

The most important thing you should do is take steps to prevent further damage.

Most mild to moderate sunburns can be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies. Cool compresses will relieve minor pain. Aloe vera gel on your skin.

However, if your sunburn is severe or blistering, you should seek medical attention right away. If there is excess pain, not relieved by a couple of aspirin, you may need to see your doctor. Some sensitive skin may become irritated. Watch the area and follow your Doctors directions.

If you notice any suspicious moles or skin growths on your body, you should get them checked out by a dermatologist.

Early detection is key to preventing the spread of skin cancer, so it’s important to be vigilant and proactive about your skin health.

In summary, sunburns may seem like a temporary inconvenience, but they can have long-lasting consequences for your skin health.

Take steps to prevent sunburns.

Seek medical attention when necessary.

These two things are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer and enjoy a safe and fun summer.

Research states that the younger you are when you get a sunburn the higher your risk.

High-Risk Factors

In a study published by the American Association for Cancer, the researchers were able to trace the connections of sunburns.

Sunburns happening earlier in your life are linked to much higher rates of melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is the more deadly form of skin cancer.

Melanoma is often growing for a long time before being found. This is why is it [s feared as a deadly silent skin cancer

The kind that makes scabs and sores on your skin are usually treatable and leaves scars according to the amount of tissue that has to be removed.

You are at higher risk if :

  • You work outside most every day in the sun.
  • When you are fair-skinned.
  • If you have red or blonde hair. Or any shade in between. Why Redheads Need Sun Blocking Clothing
  • Do you have blue or green or hazel or violet eyes?
  • Did you get a sunburn when you were very young?
  • Have you had more than 4 or 5 obvious sunburns in your life?
  • If you take some medications. Be sure and read the information that comes with the medication, either rub on or take by mouth including aspirin, Motrin, and Tylenol.
  • Don’t forget your tendency for “sun rash.”
What is your sun risk?  How many times have you had this happen to you?

Sunburn Can Do Bad Damage To Your Skin

Here’s the connection we know about you getting a sunburn and your cancer risk.

Just one single sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer. When your skin absorbs ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, it can damage the genetic material in skin cells. This DNA is the programming for your cell healing itself.

In the short term, this damage may cause sunburns. Yes, this could heal itself and there will be no damage to your cells regrowing themselves and no visible damage.

Adding a hat to your normal routine is a good idea if you keep allowing yourself to get too much sun, Don’t get carelessly leave the “short term” and be into “long term” risks. Protect yourself.

In the long term, sun damage builds up and increases the risk of skin cancer.

A simpler way to say this is “This is a situation of, if you get a few sunburns, that increases your risk of skin cancer a little.

If you get lots of sunburns, you can increase your risk of skin cancer a lot.”

Dangers Of Sunburn

Most of us have not lived in the dark. Even if you were not out in the sun long, with no sunburn issues. You might not feel any pain at all. That does not mean that you don’t have some damage. That healthy tan you had?

OK, so there are some reasons for a healthy amount of sun exposure. A healthy amount is measured in minutes, not hours. the following link will explain why we need healthy sun exposure. 6 Quick Reasons For Some Sun Exposure

What are the dangers of sunburn for you? Are you setting the stage for skin cancer?

Or is it early aging? Either one causes damage to your skin.

Sunburn is a painful reminder of skin damage from spending too much time in the sun.

Years of overexposure to the sun will lead to premature wrinkling. Your skin will look older than it should, and sooner.

There will be older-looking skin and age spots for sure. Now, are you willing to add an increased risk of skin cancer?

How Many Sunburns?

Sunburns, while you are young, will increase your Melanoma Risk. Light-skinned women who fit the higher-risk group listed earlier are at a definite higher risk after five or more blistering sunburns.

If these sunburns occur between the ages of 15 and 20, these women have an 80 percent increased risk for melanoma. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer.

If this is your risk group, please find a good dermatologist and get a full exam of your skin. Meanwhile, please start your own at-home skin inspections.

Getting as many as 5 sunburns is an indicator of a careless lifestyle that may include other behaviors that can also lead to higher risk factors.

Early Exposure Is Dangerous

Early exposures, in general, are the cause of greater concern over the exposures later in life.

If you receive sunburn later in life, researchers found that usually there is a longer time between sunburn incidents.

This delay in repeating the sunburn damage will make your skin cancer appear later in your life. Usually, mature people make better choices about getting too much sun.

This is why it’s important for parents to take steps to protect their children from the sun, as well as themselves. Help your kids learn good sun protection habits for their skin.

What is your sunburn risk?

Importance Of Sun Block Clothing To Control Sunburn Risk

Sun blocking clothing, will give you good protection for the areas that are covered. Blocking the sun from your skin will be easier when you simply put on a sun-blocking hat, your sunshades, and sun blocking loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt.

Add your sunblock lotion with a broad spectrum and a UPF of at least 30 on the exposed areas of your skin. Keep skin covered with the clothing. Just leaving the clothing on is easier than applying the sunscreen every 2 hours as directed.

You don’t have to keep applying goopy sunscreen to the parts of your body that are covered.

Wear your sun blocking hat, sunglasses, sun block shirt, and know that you have some safety for having fun in the sun. Add sunscreen to your face, throat, nose, ears, and neck.

There will be some reflections from water or sand or cement and you will need to protect yourself from that to ensure safer skin. Most skin cancers show up first on some part of the head.

Sunscreen normally needs to be reapplied after you’re outside for a couple of hours or after you towel dry after swimming. Making use of the shade under a shelter, use an umbrella, or a tree can also help protect you from the sun.

Oh No, You Have A Sunburn!

Are you feeling your burn?

You forgot to put on sunscreen! Then you fell asleep in your lawn chair. When this happens, you’re certainly in for some red skin and pain.

The good news is that the pain won’t last forever. But it will be uncomfortable for a while.

A sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.

Your symptoms of sunburn usually appear within a couple of hours after sun exposure. While the full amount of your skin damage may take as long as 24 hours to appear.

Long-term damage, such as an increased risk for skin cancers, can take years to appear.

So you think that you are safe. It only takes a few cells that have their DNA damaged, and they can go crazy and make many millions more damaged cells. That is what skin cancer is, damaged cells that don’t know when to stop reproducing.

Do More Severe Sunburns Last Longer?

Yes, a more serious sunburn will affect you longer than a slight one will. How long will a sunburn last? The severity of the burn, as well as the general health you have, are important in healing from sunburn. How well you take care of your skin as it heals.

Ignoring the process and not taking care of your skin will make the whole ordeal take longer.

Mild Sunburns

Mild sunburns usually come with redness and some pain, which can last anywhere from three to five days. Your skin usually feels tight and dry, making it itch. Don’t scratch. Your skin may also peel a bit toward the last couple of days as your skin regenerates.

You may not have a fever, but will feel feverish and should have lots of nonalcoholic fluids. A cool bath with a soothing non-petroleum-based ointment spread across “burned skin.” Maybe a Tylenol will make you feel better for the short term while your skin rejuvenates itself.

Moderate Sunburns

Moderate sunburns are typically more painful.

Your skin will be red, a bit swollen, and hot to the touch. Moderate sunburns usually take about a week to heal. Often with a moderate sunburn, your skin is completely healed in that time with the peeling of your skin complete.

However, others may continue to have their skin peeled for a few more days.

Keep your skin moisturized and avoid further sun exposure to your skin.

Remember your sun block clothing. Don’t allow more skin injury.

Severe Sunburns

Severe sunburns sometimes require a visit to a doctor or even a hospital. You’ll have painful blistering and very red skin. Severe Sunburns can take up to two weeks to fully recover.

Even if you don’t need to go into a hospital, you’ll likely have to stay home and rest to recover from a severe burn.

Being uncomfortable for several days is to be ex[ected. Stay aware, and don’t allow your or your children to have too much sun.

Factors That Affect the Duration Of A Sunburn

A number of factors can affect how long your sunburn symptoms and discomfort last. Not everyone will react in the same way to sun exposure.

In general, these factors make people more susceptible to severe sunburns. And of course, these people generally take longer to heal.

If you have:

  • fair or light skin
  • freckles or red or fair hair
  • exposure to the sun is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (when the sun’s rays are most intense)
  • are at a high altitude
  • living or visiting places near the equator
  • take certain drugs that make you more susceptible to burns (photosensitizing medications)

Quick Review For Mild Sunburn

Your redness will typically start showing up about two to six hours after sun exposure.

Your redness will hit a peak after around 24 hours and then will then subside over the next day or two.

Remember that the redness from more severe burns may take a bit longer to subside.

How long does sunburn pain last?

Pain from a sunburn usually starts within 6 hours and peaks around 24 hours. Pain will usually subside after 48 hours.

You can reduce pain with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Aleve) or aspirin (Bufferin). Cool showers, patting the skin dry not rubbing are soothing.

Applying cool compresses to the skin may also offer some relief.

How Long Will The Swelling From Sunburn Last?

The swelling may persist for a couple of days or even longer when you get a severe sunburn. Usually, you can take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or use a corticosteroid cream to help reduce swelling. These medications should make you more comfortable.

If these suggestions don’t help with the pain, you should see your Dr. There may be other issues that you are not aware of.

How Long Do Sunburn Blisters Usually Last?

If you have moderate to severe sunburn, blisters will show up between 6 and 24 hours after UV exposure. Occasionally it may take a couple of days for blisters to show up on the skin. With blisters being the sign of a moderate or severe burn, they might last up to a week.

Use caution with these blisters. If you do get blisters, don’t break them. Your body has made these blisters to order to protect your skin and allow it to heal. Breaking them will slow down your healing process. It also increases your risk of infection.

If your blisters break on their own, you should clean the area with mild soap and water. Then you should cover the area with a wet dressing. Keep the blisters out of the sun to help expedite healing.

If there is any sign of infection you should see your doctor.

How Long Will Sunburn Peeling Last?

When you get sunburn, the skin will usually start to flake and peel after about three days. Once peeling starts, it may last for several days.

In general, peeling will stop when the skin is fully healed. For a mild to moderate burn, that should be within seven days. However, there may be small amounts of peeling for several weeks.

Stay hydrated to help your skin heal more quickly.

Be gentle when removing dead skin cells from peeling skin. Don’t pull or exfoliate. Your skin will shed by itself. Remember that your new skin is delicate and more susceptible to irritation.

Protect your skin with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing whenever you go outside.

Learn How To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take on “What Is Your Sunburn Risk”

I know that I have not always been as careful with sunburn as I should have been for myself or my family. We had all the risks and none of the knowledge of what should be done. There was a lack of information to work with for kids’ parents when I was younger.

That is why I am sharing what we now know. Maybe if you see the information one more time, you will take action.

By wearing sun blocking clothing and knowing how to use sunscreen we will be able to work with the risks we have for sunburn. We can have fun in the sun and stay safe. Are you making changes in how you take care of your skin?

One more important thing, make sure that any ointment you put on your sunburned skin is petroleum free. Vasolene is one to avoid as it is made of petroleum-based ingredients. Read the label carefully.

Thank you,


This information is curated from many hours of reading and research. The suggestions shared here is to offer guidelines for caring for your skin in the sun. My family is living with the fear of skin cancer.

Protect yourself and your family so you can avoid living in fear.

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