Too Hot to Handle: The Sunburn Reality

When the sun comes out, it's time to head outdoors. But, as we all know, too much sun can be a bad thing. This is the reason our parents have been slathering us up with sunscreen since we were babies. Do you know some of the serious dangers from spending a long time under those rays? Check out some of the hazards and a few tips to avoid them.

Ultraviolet Rays and the Ozone Layer

The ozone layer soaks up most of the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, but how much depends on the time of year and the weather. Thanks to chemicals that aren't environmentally friendly (such as chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, AKA CFCs), the ozone has thinned in certain areas. In fact, over Antarctica there's a hole three times the size of Australia! Does this mean more UV rays are making it down to earth? Yes, but if we keep doing our part, the ozone will gradually rebuild itself.

Health Effects from Sunburn and Ultraviolet Rays

Young people often spend more time outside than adults, but peeps under the age of 18 are at the greatest risk for sunburn. What some people might not be aware of is that too much sun can cause, not only skin cancer, but several other serious afflictions. Here's a list:

  • Melanoma Skin Cancer - This is the most serious form of skin cancer. It's also one of the fastest growing types of cancer in the US, with one in 87 people developing it each year. That's an increase of 1,800 per cent since the 1930s! Scientists believe there might be a link between childhood sunburns and developing melanoma later on in life. If it's caught in time, it is almost curable. However, it can spread very quickly.
  • Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer - This kind of skin cancer is rarely fatal, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked. If left untreated, nonmelanoma skin cancer can cause major health problems. The two types of nonmelanoma skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinomas, which are fleshy non-spreading nodules or bumps, and Squamous Cell Carcinomas, which are rapid growth tumors that can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Actinic Keratoses - Skin growths that happen on areas exposed to the sun. The face, hands, forearms and part of the neck are perfect candidates for this. If left untreated, they can be serious.
  • Premature Aging of the Skin - Longtime exposure to the sun causes the skin to become thick, wrinkled and leathery. Because it happens over the years, there's not much anyone can do. With proper protection, like wearing sunscreen, this condition can be avoided.
  • Cataracts and Other Eye Damage - What some people might not be aware of is the serious damage the sun can do to their eyes. If cataracts (a condition that causes cloudy vision) aren't treated, they can cause blindness. Other eye damage includes tissue growth on the white of the eye that can block vision, skin cancer around the eyes, and retinal damage.
  • Immune Suppression - Sunburns can alter your immune system. Regardless of skin type, if you keep soaking up those UV rays, your immune system can be damaged. After you've been in the sun, your White blood cells (these are the guys that fight disease) can take up to 24 hours to start doing their job properly again.

How to Protect Yourself from Sunburn and Ultraviolet Rays

  • Limit your time in the sun. The UV rays are strongest between 10AM and 4PM, but this doesn't mean you can get out of mowing the lawn.
  • Wearing sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection helps prevent cataracts and other eye damage. When you're buying your shades, check the label.
  • Wear a hat, especially one with a wide brim. This might not always be the fashion trend of the season, but it will prevent you from looking like beef jerky in 20 years.
  • ALWAYS use sunscreen. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, though you can find sunscreens with a much higher SPF. Reapply more every two hours. That includes the waterproof stuff cuz it comes off with sweat or when you towel dry yourself. Don't forget to wear lip balm that has a SPF of 15.
  • Did you know you can still burn on a cloudy day? For more sun facts and information, check out this great site.
Related Stories

latest videos


How Much Time Do You Spend Outdoors?

  • None - I keep it cool inside.
  • Half the day I'm inside, half the day I'm outside.
  • I spend most of the day outside.
  • 24/7, baby!

related stories

One minute you're lying on the beach, the next you're red as a lobster! Sunburns are uncomfortabl...
Micro_tanning beds_micro
If you think lying in a tanning bed is safer than lying in the sun, think again! Fake-n-baking ag...
If you're spending most of your summer vacation outdoors, you'd better know how to play it safe w...

Dear Dish-It in the forums

smartysatya posted in Style:
Nah!!!  [s:sm3/1jw2] but i like to edit pics with  makeup :p 
reply about 3 hours
NovaHex posted in Style:
Meh... I never actually see much of a difference with makeup.
reply about 5 hours
"Minecraftlover03" wrote:I'm 12 years old, and for some reason I'm always sad. I got a gold medal in my gym, and I just started crying, but I wasn't crying because I was happy. I just don't enjoy anything I used to. My mum does know but she says it's a phase. It isn't. I just started high school, but I don't have any new friends yet and all the popular girls pick on me and call me a loner :-( I hate school. I like the actual lessons but I don't like the social side of it. There are lots of clubs on at lunch that I want to go to but I'm too scared to go to any. I have been to one , science club but everyone was staring at me the whole time (I don't know why, and frankly I don't care, I just want them not to). Any advice would be appreciated. It really does help to talk to someone (teacher, parent, counselor, or another trusted adult) about it. If you tell someone what you've written here I'm sure someone will help you.  As for the clubs, you really just gotta go for it. Things are always going to be scary at first but it will get better the more you get into it. And obviously being in a club should help make friends. I hope what I've said is even a little bit helpful! :)
reply about 11 hours
swirly-girly posted in Style:
I like buying my clothes at 3 places: at the mall, from stores or online. I dont care where I buy from I just like shopping until I find wut I really really like. Joe Fresh is on my must check list tho
reply about 12 hours
swirly-girly posted in Style:
mid-length tousled an totally awesome cuz I dont think I can use the word I want to use on KW ;)
reply about 12 hours

play online games