How common: Anyone who bares skin to the sun is vulnerable, and most everyone gets burned at some point in their lifetime.
Risk factors: Prolonged exposure of skin to direct or reflected sunlight, roughly between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. Fair-skinned people are at greatest risk.
Age group affected: Men of all ages get burned. More serious skin problems linked to sunburn are cumulative, meaning the more you get burned, the more susceptible you are to other skin diseases.
Gender gap: None.
Who to see: Family doctor if sunburn is severe and symptoms include blistering, weakness, confusion or convulsions. Also if you are taking medications that might increase sensitivity to sunlight.
You wake to a brilliant sunny Saturday and eagerly consider the possibilities: the beach, bike riding, volleyball, a picnic.
As soon as you step outside, you’ll be hit by ultraviolet radiation from the sun that within minutes could start wreaking havoc inside your skin. Cells break, blood vessels leak, tissues swell and possibly, deep down, a cancer begins.
Alarmist rhetoric from pale and pimply doctors? Sorry. No matter how much you want to believe otherwise, all research shows that tanned skin is damaged1 skin, and sunburned skin is even worse for you.
“It is possible for one very bad sunburn to initiate changes in skin that result in skin cancer,” says Rodney Basler, M.D., a dermatologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “The norm, though, is a lifetime of unprotected sun exposure for developing skin cancer.”
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