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Dealing with Sunburn

Photo: Girl in bathing suit at the oceanThe Best Ways to Minimize the Impact of Sunburn

Over the past few decades, medical science has documented the health risks associated with over-exposure to the sun, specifically the higher incidences of melanoma, or skin cancer, in people who spent more time outside without proper UV protection. So you would expect that fewer people would go outside without sunscreen, and that sunburn rates would have declined. Not so, say researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Over the last 15 years, the percentage of people who had at least one sunburn during the year studied actually rose, from 32% to 34%. A study by the Skin Cancer Foundation put the sunburn rate at 42%.

The Relationship Between Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Based on studies conducted over the last 20 years, the CDC estimates that the risk of developing melanoma is twice as high for people who have suffered at least five sunburns in their entire life. Scientists say that individuals with only a few intense sunburns are statistically more likely to develop skin cancer than people who have years of tanning.

Dealing with the Immediate Discomfort of Sunburn

The best health choice you can make is to avoid sunburn at all costs. Always put on sunscreen before you engage in any outdoor activity, even if it’s a cloudy day. But if you forget, or get caught outside without adequate protection, here are some things you can do in the short term to avoid further health risk and deal with the discomfort:

  • Stay hydrated—drink lots of fluids
  • Take a cold shower or sit in cold water (but only if it’s in the shade, as the water will magnify the effect of the sun)
  • An over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, can relieve some of the discomfort of the burn
  • A cream/lotion with aloe will soften the skin and keep it from cracking
  • An antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can alleviate some of the itching you will feel as your skin heals

Come to Hillcrest Medical

In the Dallas area, the best place for urgent care is Hillcrest Medical. Many of our patients also choose to make our doctor their primary care physician. Come and check out our facility and meet our doctor and staff. We’re here to help you now, and we’re here for all your future urgent care needs.

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