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Q: What is sunburn?

Posted May 08, 2013 in Advice Column, Greene County

A: Sunburn is a visible reaction of the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation or UV light sources, invisible rays that are part of sunlight, such as tanning salons. Ultraviolet rays can also cause invisible damage to the skin. Excessive and/or multiple sunburns cause premature aging of the skin and lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US and exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Children often spend a good part of their day playing outdoors in the sun, especially during the summer. Children who have fair skin, moles or freckles, or who have a family history of skin cancer, are more likely to develop skin cancer in later years.

Overexposure to sunlight before age 18 is most damaging to the skin.

UV rays are strongest during summer months when the sun is directly overhead (normally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).

First aid for sunburn (children and adults)
• Have your child take a cool bath or use cool compresses on the sunburned area.
• Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for discomfort. Be sure to follow the directions on the container.
• Apply a topical moisturizer, aloe gel, hydrocortisone cream or a topical pain reliever to sunburned skin.
• If blisters are present, do not break them open, as infection can occur.
• Keep your child out of the sun until the burn is healed.
• Give your child extra fluid for several days to avoid dehydration.

Information provided by Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.

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