Understanding the Dangers of Sunburns

Temperatures are getting warmer and that means more time outside with the possibility of sunburn. Isn’t that just your skin’s normal reaction to the sun?

Not really. One of the best prevention measures to take against skin damage and cancer is to make sure you don’t get sunburned. If you’re outside without sunscreen, research has found that anyone can get burned. And for people of color, sunburns can be especially dangerous. Experts report there is no natural shield from skin cancer, even for those with dark skin.

Dark Skin and Sunburn

A recent study of more than 400 people cited several things that lead to sunburns. First, those who are most likely to get burned are between the ages of 18-29. They spend more time outdoors, love the look of a tan, and are less likely to use sunscreen.

However, research discovered that people who identify as “non-white” get sunburned just as often as those with lighter skin. Previously, it was believed that the pigment in darker skin protected against sun damage, but new evidence reports the contrary.

The component in skin that determines pigment, called melanin, plays a small role in protection from UV rays of the sun. The more melanin, the darker one’s skin. While darker skin has a slight protection – an SPF range of 4 to 13 – it’s still not enough to avoid sunburn altogether. And the consequences of a bad sunburn are the same no matter the color of skin.

Attitudes About the Sun

If people don’t believe they will get skin cancer or don’t care if they get a sunburn, they are more likely to take risks, such as staying out too long or not using sun screen. This attitude increases the possibility of sun damage or skin cancer.

In addition, it is easier to see when fair skinned people are sunburned. The skin turns pink or red and others will often notify them of the burn. But what about medium- or dark-toned skin? Do you recognize when it starts to burn? It may not look the same as ultra-pale skin, but the same damage happens.

It’s Serious Stuff

A bad sunburn is a serious matter. Because of the damage experienced, your body is killing skin cells and they begin to peel off your body. The skin cell’s DNA has been injured by UV radiation and this is called apoptosis.

Between 2002 and 2011, skin cancer rates significantly increased. It is now the most common form of cancer in the United States. The most dangerous form is melanoma. For those who consistently get sunburned, the risk of melanoma doubles. Exposure to UV radiation can be attributed to 86 percent of melanomas.

The Perfect Storm

High blood pressure and diabetes are also sunburn factors. The medication used to treat those ailments increases sun sensitivity. These two conditions have higher incidences among African-Americans and, combined with the belief they don’t need skin protection, increases the chances for skin cancer. It’s the perfect storm for deadly melanoma.

Are you seeing dark spots, fine lines, and other issues from too much sun? Contact Spark Laser Center today for assistance!

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