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Don’t Get Burned This Summer

Jun 25, 2014 01:12PM ● Published by Dia

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Preventing Sunburn & Skin Cancer

By Dr. Josh Prickett, medical director, North Tarrant E-Care Emergency Center

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family. While having fun in the sun, don’t forget to take care of your skin. By following a few simple precautions, Southlake-area residents can avoid sunburns and other problems related to overexposure to the sun’s ever-present UV rays.

Sun damage can occur after just a short time outdoors, or even when riding in a car. Ultraviolet rays play a part in problems ranging from skin irritation, cataracts and corneal burns to sunburn, “sun poisoning” and various types of skin cancer.

Symptoms of Sunburn

Mild sunburn can result in skin irritation 2-6 hours after exposure. Peak effects may be felt after 12-24 hours. Severe sun poisoning is characterized by blistering, extreme burning sensations, dehydration, low electrolytes, and possible skin infection. Serious untreated sunburn may result in shock and can sometimes prove fatal.

Other sunburn aftereffects may include:

·       Chills

·       Fever

·       Nausea or vomiting

·       Flulike symptoms

·       Blistering

·       Skin peeling (4-7 days after exposure)

Sun poisoning can cause a rash called polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). Small bumps appear all over the body, especially in UV-exposed areas, then progresses to thick rash and hives on lower arms, legs and chest.

If your sunburn is causing extreme pain, blistering, headache, confusion, fainting, or nausea, be sure to seek emergency care immediately. ER doctors at E-Care Emergency Centers (with three locations to serve you in North Tarrant, Frisco and McKinney) will evaluate burns closely. Mild sunburns may be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, cool compresses, anti-inflammatory medications, and soothing skin lotion/gel.

Risk of Skin Cancer

According to American Family Physician, one in every six Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer: malignant melanoma, nonmelanoma, basal cell carcinoma (the most common) or squamous cell carcinoma. Ask your doctor to check new or irregular moles or other possible skin cancer signs. (See Table 1 for skin cancer screening tips.)

No matter what your age, skin type or lifestyle, UV rays have an impact on everyone. Certain people with very fair skin and freckles may burn more easily. Others at greater risk for sunburn include anyone previously treated for skin cancer, people with genetic disorders that deplete pigment , those with unusual moles, persons with a family history of melanoma and anyone who suffered at least one severe sunburn.

Beat the Burn

By following these tips from the World Health Organization and Mayo Clinic , you avoid sunburn from ruining your summer fun.

  • Select a sunscreen and lip balm with UV protection factor of at least SPF30.
  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to protect from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Know if your sunscreen contains PABA, which may irritate skin. PABA products should not be used on children younger than 6 months old.
  • Spread sunscreen on exposed areas 30 minutes before you go out.
  • Cover ears, neck, bald areas on the head, backs of hands and arms, knees and tops of feet.
  • Reapply every two hours or so, or more frequently is you are exercising, swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing to shade you from the sun.
  • Choose sunglasses that block both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays.
  • Do not use tanning beds or sunlamps.
  • Children younger than 6 months of age should avoid direct sunlight.

 

If you need care for sunburn, skin abnormalities or other problems, visit E-Care Emergency Centers for emergency or urgent care. Check in online or call 817-281-7277 in the Southlake area of North Tarrant County.

Josh Prickett MD

Josh Prickett, MD, is currently medical director for North Tarrant location of E-Care Emergency Center in North Richland Hills. Dr. Prickett graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School and has been practicing emergency care in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas since 1989.  He has been married to his wife Carin for 29 years. They have a son Jonathan, a daughter Whitney, and a son-in-law John. Dr. Prickett and his family are active at Gateway Church in Southlake and love being a part of the Southlake community. 

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