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Sunburn 101

Sunburn 101

This time of year is a great one in North Carolina. The weather is prime for outdoor activities like baseball, family cook outs and beach trips, but over exposure to the outdoor elements could result in a sunburn and a not so enjoyable next few days. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at sunburns and how they effect your health now and in the long run.

What is a sunburn?
A sunburn is skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You may have heard of these referred to as UV rays.

Is there a certain time of day where I’m more apt to get a sunburn?
10am and 4pm is the window of time where you are most likely to get a sunburn. In this time frame, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are the strongest of the day.

It is cloudy outside, so I don’t have to worry about sunburn right?
Wrong. The sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. Even if there are clouds, you can still get a sunburn.

The worst place for sunburn has to be at the beach right?
Nope. Altitude plays a large part in how damaging the sun’s UV rays can be. At higher altitudes, there is less atmosphere to block UV rays. For every 1000 ft. above sea level, the UV exposure increases 4%.

Is everyday the same or are some days worse than others for sunburns?
Yes, each day is different. Check out your local weather report and search out the “UV index.” The higher this number, the more likely you are to be burned by the sun.

Sunburns hurt now, but what are some of the long term effects?The long tern effects of sunburns include an increased chance of cataracts if you do not protect your eyes, physical change in your skin such as brown spots or wrinkling, and an increased chance of having skin cancer.

I forgot to put on my sunblock and now I have a sunburn. What can I do at home to treat it?
You can apply lotion that contains aloe vera in it. You can also put cool clothes on your body and take cool showers to cool your skin. You can also check out these 10 home remedies from health.com.

I know if I have sunburn because of the pain, but what about my children how can I tell if they have sunburn?
The most common visible symptoms of sunburn are redness, swelling and blisters.

Just one really, really bad sunburn as a kid, other than the pain, won’t be so bad will it?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.

My sunburn is real bad. At what point should I think about seeing my doctor?
Most sunburns can be treated at home, but there are some situations where you may need to see your doctor. You may want to set up an appointment with your doctor if you have blisters covering a large part of your body, your sunburn just doesn’t respond to home care or if your sunburn is causing a high fever, extreme pain, headache, confusion, nausea or chills. If you think you may need to see a doctor, it is always a safe bet to go get checked out.

What level of SPF should I use for my baby/ children?
15 SPF or higher would be best for babies and small children with sensitive skin.

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