It’s that time of year again. Warm weather. Kids out of school for the summer. Family vacations. And people like me worried they look too pale. Yes it’s time to go out and have fun in the sun and catch some rays. Because, as John Denver put it – “Sunshine, on my shoulders, makes me happy”.
Getting some sunshine isn’t just fun, there are real medical benefits too. It stimulates your skin to make vitamin D, which is essential for good health. But of course too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Too much sun causes your skin to turn red and hurt. In severe cases you can develop blisters and feel feverish, nauseated, and weak. A few days later, your skin peels as your body tries to rid itself of sun-damaged cells.
Sunburn Safety Guidelines
You sunburn sooner between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun is highest in the sky. Limit sun exposure during these hours. Redness occurs 3-4 hours after you start sunning, and peaks at around 24 hours. So come in out of the sun before your skin turns red.
Sunshine is 80% reflected by snow, compared with 15% by sand. That’s why you quickly get that “raccoon-face” tan after snow-skiing with goggles on.
Certain medications can make you more prone to burning. Check to see if yours is on the list.
Most sunburns can be treated by just relieving the symptoms (although I have even seen extreme cases in the ER that required IV fluids and medications). Here are some things to do when you’re sunburned
1. You may already have several medications at home that are useful, especially when given early. These include Narpoxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn), Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Acetaminopen (Tylenol).
2. Steroid creams. We often use steroid creams (such as hydrocortisone) on sunburns. But avoid using them on blisters or broken skin. In the more severe cases steroid tablets can be prescribed.
3. Cool soaks. Cool soaks with water or Burow’s solution provide temporary relief.
4. Aloe vera may help with sunburn symptoms.
5. “Numbing” sprays may cause dermatitis and should usually be avoided.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So use sunscreen with an adequate SPF. Apply it at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply every 2-3 hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Use waterproof sunscreen when swimming or perspiring heavily. Wear protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hat or sun visor.
Advance ER is available in two locations for your convenience:
Advance ER – Galleria Area
Advance ER – Park Cities