Sunscreen is your best friend during the summer

This is the time of year that our dermatology clinic sees a fair amount of patients suffering from severe sunburns. We even get calls from sunburned tourists who are visiting Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland, Outer Banks of North Carolina, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

Our advice for avoiding a nasty sunburn is simple:

Always use a sunscreen with SPF30 or higher.
Protect your lips by using sunscreen lip balm.
Avoid using sunscreen on babies younger than six months — instead, use hats, clothing and shade for protection.
If you wear makeup, think about products that contain sunscreen.
Choose broad spectrum products that guard against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
Be mindful that the sun’s rays are strongest between the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How to chose and use a good sunscreen

Whether lotion, gel or spray form, our dermatology clinic recommends you buy a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, is water-resistant, and offers at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30. The SPF number tells you how effective the product is in offering protection from UV rays. Use higher SPF for more protection.
As for reapplying your sunscreen throughout the day, be diligent. Many people are under the assumption that one application is all they need for the day. Not true. Our dermatologists recommend that you follow the manufacturer’s directions for reapplication, especially during peak sun hours or after swimming or sweating.
For highest level of protection, apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside.

The anatomy of a sunburn

Sunburn occurs after excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun or indoor tanning booths.
Medications can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn.
Moderate sunburns can lead to temporary disability. Severe sunburns can lead to swelling, blistering, fever, and dehydration. Because of our proximity to great beaches, waterways and outdoor activities, people in Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland, Outer Banks of North Carolina, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Portsmouth are extremely susceptible to serve sunburns.
The burn is not due to the heat of the sun. It is due to the ultraviolet radiation bombarding your cells in the deeper layers of the skin. Since we cannot feel the radiation, the symptoms appear only after the cells are damaged and become inflamed.
It takes time for inflammation to occur, so a sunburn may not be apparent until after you have gotten out of the sun.
The pain of sunburn also worsens over time, reaching a peak 12 to 48 hours later. Damaged skin later peels off, usually 2 to 7 days later.
Once the skin has burned, there is little that can be done other than providing comfort while the body heals itself.
Therefore, our dermatologists consistently advise that prevention is the most important step to take. Use sunscreen and follow recommendations above.

How to treat a sunburn

Cool shower or bath, or placing cold, wet washcloths over the burn.
Over the counter medications, like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). (Aspirin should not be given to children with a fever, or those who are allergic).
Avoid using products containing benzocaine or lidocaine, which can further damage the skin, or petroleum (Vaseline), which can block pores.
Call your dermatologist clinic if you have a fever, or blisters, or develop dizziness with the sunburn.

Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Sunscreen, when used with other protective measures, can shield your skin from sun damage and the dangers of skin cancer.

Sunburn has long-term risks. Blistering sunburns, particularly in children, increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer years later. And, ongoing sun exposure, even without burning, leads to premature aging of the skin and other forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

If you have a skin condition in need of evaluation and treatment, please contact our dermatology clinic at (757) 481-1666. We serve Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our dermatologists are here to help you.