As it gets closer to summer I think a discussion about sun safety needs to be had. While I hope not to offend anyone in this article, I think these words need to be said. I understand the benefits of the sun and tanning— how good the warm rays make you feel, the bronze skin tone it gives you. But I strongly disagree that those few benefits outweigh the risks of what we are warned of every year. I sometimes sit in shock at people who refuse any sun protection. Even more shocking to me, a new study I read of in Time magazine, said that 2% of people who survived Melanoma (the most severe skin Cancer) still went tanning! Risks are listed everywhere. Scientific evidence proves the dangers. Before I continue, please understand I am not suggesting to keep out of the sun, rather to wear sunscreen! Keep reading and I will dig into the most serious and common dangers of not protecting yourself. Consider this one more warning to keep in the back of your head.
The number one and potentially most serious risk of failing to protect yourself is that UV radiation promotes skin malignancies like melanoma, a very deadly form of Cancer if not treated aggressively. One serious sunburn, such as where your skin blisters increases the chance of these cells developing by 30%! 30%! Did you read that correctly? 30%!
Have you ever made a trip to Grand Haven beach over the summer and seen an old woman, in her 50’s or 60s (so they appear) with wrinkles and skin that is sagging? I know I have! Premature aging is another nasty affect of not protecting yourself. Sure you like your tan, bronze skin now. And sure, you look great in your pictures now. Think ahead 30 years and I don’t think you will be as satisfied.
Another risk of not protecting yourself is sun poisoning. As I sit and type, I cringe at those symptoms someone goes through. You see, last year I went to Grand Haven and was stupid and failed to lather on the sunscreen. (Perhaps my experience is why I feel so compelled to share the warnings). I laid on my stomach for a mere four hours and didn’t feel my burn until several hours later. I had blisters all down my back, down my legs, on my neck—the entire back side of me was raw. As soon as I started feeling the burn, I knew I was in for it. Nothing relieved my pain. I applied aloe and it literally dried up within seconds. Water hurt. Bending and sitting hurt. That night I woke up nauseous and hallucinating. I couldn’t drink enough water fast enough. I was suffering from a classic case of sun poisoning. I did this to myself by not wearing sunscreen or hydrating enough while on the beach. A little sunscreen, to take five minutes and apply, would have prevented all of my misery. The worst part? I didn’t completely heal until about 14 days later.
People have the misunderstanding that by wearing sunscreen they can’t get tan. That is a myth. What sunscreen does is protect you from UVA/UVB rays. (Those are the dangerous rays I am talking about). It still allows you to get sun kissed!
So now after I have shoved the dangers into your head just once more I want to prepare you if you do experience a burn. This may sound disgusting, but if you take a bath with vinegar in it within 24 hours of being burnt, the vinegar will draw the sting out of your skin. It works magic and you will be relieved of your pain. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen to relieve the burning sensation. Hydrate! When your skin is burnt, it dehydrates you very quickly! Drink a ton of water and avoid salty things or caffeine—those naturally dehydrate you. Slather on the cool aloe! Store your aloe in the fridge and it will feel so soothing once applied. You can also use cold packs to get the same cooling effect. If at any point you start vomiting or lose consciousness, go to the nearest medical facility. The sun does great things for our bodies, like generating Vitamin D in our bodies, but when having adverse affects it is not something to mess around with.
I know we beg for the sun in these long, dragging winter months, but please be smart about your exposure. We are all necessary to someone, and we need to protect ourselves to stick around! If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for someone who cares about you—they don’t want to lose someone to such a devastating disease that could potentially be prevented.
_“Too many people undervalue what they are and overvalue what they’re not.” –Anonymous _
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