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How sunburn can cause skin cancer? Know symptoms, effective measures and more

While enjoying the warm weather and activities that summer has to offer, it is crucial to remember the importance of protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun's rays.

Written By: Kristina Das @ New Delhi Published on: April 24, 2024 19:27 IST
Sunburn Cancer
Image Source : FREEPIK Know symptoms and preventive measures for sunburn cancer.

Summer is a season that brings with it warm weather, outdoor activities, and plenty of sunshine. While soaking up the sun can be enjoyable, it also brings the risk of sunburn. Sunburn occurs when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, triggering inflammation and causing the skin to become red, painful, and sometimes swollen. According to Dr G. Vamshi Krishna Reddy, Director-Oncology Services, Consultant Medical Oncologist & Hemato Oncologist, symptoms of sunburn usually appear within a few hours of sun exposure and can worsen over the next 24-48 hours.

Common symptoms of sunburn include:

Redness: The affected area of the skin appears red and may feel warm to the touch.

Pain and tenderness: Sunburned skin can be painful, tender, or itchy.
Swelling: In severe cases, sunburn can cause swelling of the affected area.
Blisters: Severe sunburn may result in the formation of blisters filled with fluid.
Peeling: After a few days, sunburned skin may start to peel as it heals.

To treat sunburn, it's essential to take measures to soothe the affected skin and promote healing. These include:

Cool compresses: Applying cool, damp cloths to the sunburned area can help reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Hydration: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, especially if the sunburn covers a large area of the body.
Moisturizers: Applying moisturizing lotions or aloe vera gel can help soothe and hydrate sunburned skin.
Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like paracetamol can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Avoid further sun exposure: Protect sunburned skin from additional sun exposure until it heals completely.

Preventing sunburn is key to maintaining skin health. 

Sunburn itself is not cancer, however, repeated sunburns can significantly increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations that can eventually result in cancerous growth.

It's crucial to protect your skin from sunburn and UV radiation by using sunscreen with a high SPF, wearing protective clothing, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and avoiding indoor tanning beds. Regular skin checks and early detection are also essential for preventing and treating skin cancer. If you notice any changes in your skin, such as new moles, changes in existing moles, or unusual growths, it's important to consult a dermatologist promptly.

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