Have you been skipping your sunscreen when going outside or are you a fan of tanning? If so, you are exposing your skin to the damaging rays of the sun. Many people think that a little bit of sun won’t hurt them and there are even others that believe tanning is actually healthy for them. This is not accurate in the least, as each ‘little bit’ of sun exposure builds up over time and causes more and more damage to your skin. Not only that, but a tan is actually the temporary appearance of damaged skin.
Sunburns are usually your first and most immediate sign of sun-damaged skin. Unfortunately, sunburns may take hours to appear after sun exposure, which is why it is important to wear sunscreen anytime you are out in the sun. Call your dermatologist if you’re experiencing a severe case of blistering due to a sunburn, a mild sunburn over a large portion of your body that is so painful that you can’t sleep, or find it very uncomfortable to wear clothing. Temporary relief for mild sunburn symptoms includes moisturizers that don’t include any acids, products that contain aloe, cool showers with unscented soaps, cool compresses, or mists of cool water. Repeated sunburns can cause skin to wrinkle faster than it normally would and even skin to become thinner. Severe sunburns can cause sun poisoning, which causes symptoms such as swelling, fever and/or chills, headache, or even confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, you must seek immediate medical care.
Even if you do not ever get a sunburn, sun exposure can still damage your skin and cause it to dry out and age more rapidly. As you age or as your skin damage increases, you may begin to notice dark spots, oftentimes called ‘sun spots’ appearing on skin that is often exposed to the sun. Eventually, enough sun damage can even cause a more serious problem such as skin cancer.
More than two million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in a year due to frequent exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, some of skin cancers may resemble a sun spot or just a patch of skin that appears irritated. Early signs of skin cancer include brown or patchy spots on your skin, a rash that doesn’t heal, or changes in moles (shape and color).
If you experience a severe sunburn or any of the symptoms listed above, it is important you call your dermatologist immediately for an evaluation.
Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.