Metzger: Sunscreen is important

Columnist and Managing Editor Logan Metzger stresses the importance of sunscreen.

Logan Metzger

This last weekend I went home for the first time in months. It was Easter, so of course I had to go home, but not for the religious aspects because neither I nor my family are religious, but for the amazing dinner that my family puts together for Easter.

While I was home, one of my younger brothers had a doubleheader baseball game, meaning that I sat outside for way too long. And, of course, I wasn’t aware that it would be a doubleheader, thus I forgot to bring sunscreen.

And because I forgot to bring sunscreen, I got sunburns on my face and my arms. I have now had these sunburns for a week and they are just now peeling, so that’s extra fun.

So for this week’s column I would like to emphasize the importance of sunscreen!

Sunscreen can protect your skin against skin cancer and premature aging. However, it is not as effective unless it’s applied correctly. 

Follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatology Association when applying sunscreen.

  1. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.

  1. Apply sunscreen before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.

  1. Apply enough sunscreen. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.

  1. Apply sunscreen to all skin not covered by clothing. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard‐to‐reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.

  1. To remain protected when outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter.

You can get sunscreen at just about any store, whether it is Walmart, Target, Walgreens or Dollar Tree. Find something that works for you and your family because not wearing sunscreen can be dangerous.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the skin’s outermost layers. For people with less melanin, prolonged unprotected sun exposure can cause skin cells to become red, swollen and painful, also known as a sunburn. Sunburns can range from mild to blistering.

Having a sunburn hurts you in more ways than one. The danger can go beyond any short-term pain, redness and discomfort because after the sunburn fades, lasting damage remains.

Having a sunburn can accelerate skin aging and is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association also has a list of tips to help you if you do get sunburned.

  1. Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.

  1. Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

  1. Consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort.

  1. Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration. 

  1. If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.

  1. Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.

My sunburns are starting to heal, but the sunny weather is just starting, so when you go outside please be careful and use sunscreen.