The Sunburn Timeline: 12 Key Times To Remember


The Sunburn Timeline: 12 Key Times To Remember




Summer days are here and we are ready for all fun in the sun!  Just don’t let it take a toll on your skin.

It’s not that we’re completely clueless about shielding ourselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays, it’s just that we slip up in the details, such as how long to wait before putting on more sunscreen, when to toss the half used bottle, and what body parts are most vulnerable to solar radiation.  This, in part, might explain why the rate of skin cancer in the US remains stubbornly high.  It’s the most common form of cancer affecting more people than breast. Lung, Prostate, and colon cancers combined.  And its deadliest form, melanoma, is on the rise.


Here Are Your UV, A-B-Cs


Over the past few decades, scientists have shed light on the different types of ultraviolet rays and their toll on skin.  The most common form of solar radiation, UVA penetrates deeper layers of the skin.  Thee rays are responsible for tans and premature aging, such as wrinkles and brown spots,  UVB rays, on the other hand, primarily affect the skin’s outermost layer, causing  visible sunburns  Despite these differences, UVA and UVB rays have one thing in common   BOTH HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO CAUSE CELL MUTATION THAT LEAD TO SKIN CANCER.  AVOID THEM!

To save your skin, we asked top experts to spell out the need-to-know stats and timelines and keep your family protected during all those fun times in the sun.

The Sunburn Timeline: 12 Key Times To Remember




How quickly a tea bag can soothe the sting of a sunburn.  Compounds in black tea called tannins act as an anti-inflammatory on the skin.  This can tone down the redness and prevent peeling.  Steep a black tea bag in boiling water, let it cool, and dab it on  your burn  Leave it on for two to five minutes and repeat this process several times through the day.




How long it takes to apply sunscreen to the bottoms of your feet.  Much like the scalp this area often gets overlooked.  Slather or spray sunscreen over your entire foot, including the soles and between toes.  While you’re at it, scan for any suspicious-looking spots or moles: One in two people diagnosed with foot melanoma die within five years, often because the cancer is detected too late.




Time it takes your scalp to sizzle.  Even if you have a thick hair, those rays can sneak in and burn uncovered patches, like your part.  Because the sun beats directly down on the scalp, it’s one of the fastest places to burn.  This might explain why 6 percent of melanoma cases occur on the scalp and neck.




Time it takes sunscreen to kick into action.  Today’s formulas use chemical compounds such as avobenzone and oxybenzone to filter out UV rays.  But in order for these ingredients to work they first have to penetrate the skin.  So slather on the sunscreen on everyone at least 15 minutes before going out.  If you’re in a rush, use one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to get instant protection.  Rather than being absorbed into skin, these ingredients sit on the surface to block UV rays.




Time it takes a fair skinned person to develop a second-degree (read:blistering) sunburn on a bright day.  (Its 24 minutes for those with darker complexions.)  After waiting all year for vacation you might be tempted to make a beeline for the beach.  But even a quick dip sans sunscreen is dangerous.  Research show that intermittent exposure-short bouts of intense sun after spending most of your time indoors-is a stronger risk factor for skin cancer that everyday rays.  That’s because a hefty dose of UV radiation triggers cancer-causing mutations while temporarily weakening the immune system-a double whammy for skin cells.  The sun is most intense form 10am to 4 pm. So apply a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30.  Also use broad spectrum, meaning protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Reapply every 2 hours.




How quickly you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day.  Don’t be fooled by overcast weather.  Up to 80% of UVA rays can pierce cloud cover.  It’s possible to burn just as quickly on a hazy day as it is in sunny weather.




Time it takes unprotected eyes to get sunburned.  Just as with skin, ultraviolet light can fry the cornea, the transparent tissue that covers the front of the eyeball.  Inflammation develops several hours after sun exposure, triggering pain, irritation, and a temporary loss of vision.  To protect your eyes and fend off damage that leads to serious conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration, slip on sunglasses.  Look for a pair labeled to block both UVA and UVB rays.  Also a wide brim hat will safeguard the eyelids, which is another tender area for sunburn.




Maximum time you can go without reapplying sunscreen if you’re swimming or sweating a lot. But that only holds true if you’re sporting a sunscreen labeled “water-resistant (80minutes)”  If your bottle says “water –resistant (40 minutes)” you’ll need to apply twice as often.  Restart the clock each time you towel off.




Time it takes to build up sun protection from the inside out.  According to studies done in Germany, daily consumption of 90 milligrams (mg) of beta-carotene- the antioxidant found in red, yellow and orange veggies can provide your skin with a natural SPF of up to 4.  While this doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen, it does provide a little extra protection and can lessen the damage of a burn if you do get one.  For the amount of beta-carotene used in the study you’d have to eat 11 cups of carrots.  Luckily, you don’t have to chomp from dawn til dusk for your skins sake.  An easier route, Is to consider a 13+ mg beta carotene supplement, such as Shaklee’s CarotoMax which contains these highly beneficial skin protecting carotenoids.




How long it takes everyday sun exposure to break down collagen the protein responsible for a firm, smooth complexion.  The sun is to blame for 80% of aging in the skin.  This includes sagginess, but also an uneven tone.  As defense against solar radiation the skin produces excess melanin, which shows up as brown spots.  Get in the habit of putting on sunscreen on every morning beneath your moisturizer and makeup.




How long sunscreens remain fully effective.  Over time active ingredients break down.  But if you are applying the right amount, a 6 ounce bottle would only last for about six applications.  So check the expiration date on your bottle.  If it’s past its prime, toss it.  Also keep your bottle in a cool place as the compounds in sunscreens can degrade in hot temps.




How long it takes someone who frequents tanning beds to develop skin cancer.  The UV rays from those bulbs can be up to 12 times as strong as the sun, putting you on the fast track to disease.  Tanning bed use increases the risk o basal-cell carcinoma by 69 %.  Another study shows it ups your odds of melanoma by 74%.  Just one trip to the tanning salon is harmful, and don’t buy into the myth that building a “base” tan offers protection at the beach. Although you might feel safe because there’s less of a burning sensation the damage to your skin is already done.


So that’s the sunburn timeline: 12 key times to remember.  Use this information to help get your sun safely this year and avoid those looming skin related problems.  See more information and recommended products here.  Leave a comment below with your thoughts and share this post with those you know will like it.



Lynne is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Therapeutic Massage and Ethics Educator with extensive study in preventative nutrition and physiology. For over 35 years, Lynne has helped thousands of people through consulting, seminars and writing.

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