Why Sunburn Is Far More Serious Than You Think

Sunburn is as common as it it unpleasant, but it may be far more impactful to your health than you may think.

By Joseph Farago | Published


The care for preventing sunburns has changed rapidly over the years. Before sunscreen, certain oils were used to lubricate the skin and deter sun rays. Of course, oil has been proven to be an insufficient measure to protect people from the harmful sun rays. Nowadays, people tend to stick to a high SPF sunscreen when going to the beach to ensure their skin is adequately protected. But is sunscreen enough to stop the sun’s penetrable beams? Is sunburn far more consequential than previously designated?

One of the easiest ways to get skin cancer is to lay out in the sun unprotected. Many lather on sunscreen in the summer months to prevent skin cancer from forming from unattended sunburns. In Australia, cases of skin cancer are higher than in any other country in the world. This is because the sun rays are undeniably intense, which could penetrate protected skin if an insufficient amount of sunscreen with a lower SPF is applied. Due to the country’s high rates of melanoma and skin cancer, experts in Australia have invested in research to figure out what residents can do to protect their skin.

Justine Osborne, one of the managers of Cancer Council Victoria in Australia, says that a great way to protect oneself from sunburn is to understand UV rays and their volatility first. “UV sort of ‘zaps’ the DNA,” she stated, acknowledging that cells repair themselves but can be permanently damaged from repeated destruction from the sun. Skin cancer can develop from permanent decay, and any measure one can take to stop repeated sunburn is an excellent way to go. Osborne wants parents to start their kids young regarding UV protection, which will help ward off skin cancer when they’ve been exposed to harmful rays as an adult.

As babies are developing, their skin is “thin and sensitive.” Many may think that this means babies should receive double the sunscreen an adult needs. But dolloping on more sunscreen on a child’s skin might not be as effective as previously suspected. Since baby skin is still developing, it might not retain sunscreen properly, leading to eventual sunburn. Osborne suggests parents use loose clothing and an oversized sunhat to cover a child’s skin from the UV rays. Babies should also get ample shade when they’re outside in the sweltering heat to ensure their skin is adequately protected.

Sunscreen may not be suitable for some children due to extra ingredients in the lotion or an allergic reaction to the product. Osborne urges parents to buy specific, child-oriented sunscreen sensitive enough for baby skin. Test the cream on a small area of the skin before applying the lotion to the rest of your baby’s skin. This way, you can ensure that your child won’t have an allergic reaction to the product. Child-safe sunscreen will not only help mitigate sunburns for your children but is more suitable for a child’s sensitive skin.

Though sunscreen is sufficient enough for adults to prevent further sunburns, providing the proper attire for your children is a better way to lessen the risk of adulthood cancer and melanoma.