Tanned skin is damaged skin: Shedding light on the dangers of sun exposure

Dangers of sun exposureDespite widespread reports of the sun’s dangers, a 10-year study showed that use of sunscreen among white and Hispanic high school students in the U.S. is declining. Sunburns during childhood can lead to the development of skin cancers later. In fact, skin cancers are beginning to appear earlier in life, sometimes even in adolescence.

Many people find tanned skin attractive. But today, we know that tanned skin is damaged skin. Sun exposure can have serious effects on our physical appearance and health. Teens should NEVER use tanning beds.

Follow the ABCs of skin protection:

A = Away. Stay away from the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s damaging UV rays are most intense.

B = Block. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. The sunscreen should block UVA and UVB rays. The higher the SPF rating, the more protection your skin has.

C = Cover up. Wear a T-shirt, sunglasses and a hat.

S = Speak out. Talk to family and friends about sun protection.

Children younger than 6 months old should not be in the sun for long periods of time. However, if adequate shade or protective clothing is not available, apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to the baby’s face and hands.

Ask your doctor if you are concerned about a growing or changing skin lesion.

Dawn Siegel, MD- Dawn Siegel, MD, pediatric dermatologist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin offers one of the largest pediatric dermatology practices in the country. Dr. Siegel sees patients in Milwaukee and at our specialty clinic in Pewaukee, Wis. She also is an assistant professor of Dermatology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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