One of the most common dermatologic issues that occur during the summertime is sunburn. Sunburn is caused by prolonged exposure to UV radiation and can contribute to premature aging, needing cataracts, and wrinkles. Chronic excessive exposure, without the protection of sun block, can lead to serious problems over time, such as skin cancer. While sunburn may not appear for several hours, it should be treated as soon as possible.
There are two types of ultraviolet rays that can damage your skin – UV-A and UV-B. UV-A leads to wrinkles and premature aging, while UV-B contributes to sunburn, the tanning of skin, the accelerated aging of the skin, and skin cancer. While UV-B intensity depends upon the season, location, altitude, and time of day, they are at their peak strength in the US 10AM to 4PM from April through October.
Different types of complexions are susceptible to sunburns, but certain factors can put you at risk. These include:
- Being of a fair complexion
- Being an infant or child (skin is more sensitive than that of adults)
- Using tanning beds and/or sun lamps
- Being out in the sun during peak hours with no protection
Your pharmacist can tell you if you’re at risk of photosensitivity due to certain medicines, such as tetracyclines, antidepressants, antihistamines, estrogens, sulfonamides, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If this applies to you, be sure to wear sunscreen when you’re outside, especially for a prolonged period of time. According to the American Dermatology Association, the recommended SPF is at least 30; this also applies to cloudy days.