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This spring break, my teenage daughter is vacationing in a sunny locale. How can she prevent getting sunburned?


“The best advice regarding sunburn is to avoid it in the first place,” says Kenneth Dorsey, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Besides being painful, too much sun exposure can damage skin in ways that lead to melanoma – a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.”

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States, affecting women and men equally. It usually develops on sun-exposed areas of the body.

“We need to protect our skin from harmful solar radiation,” Dr. Dorsey says. “Even moderate exposure can cause irreversible skin damage and speed the aging process.”

Dr. Dorsey recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that can reflect both UV-A and UV-B rays. He suggests a liberal application 30 minutes before exposure, reapplication every two hours and again after swimming. He also recommends wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors for extended periods.

“Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when UV rays are strongest,” he says. “And remember to wear sun protection even on overcast days, as enough UV rays can penetrate clouds and deliver painful sunburns.”

If you do get sunburned, Dr. Dorsey recommends cool compresses and an aloe vera gel on the affected areas while taking ibuprofen with plenty of water to help relieve discomfort.

“In cases of severe sunburn, see your doctor immediately,” concludes Dr. Dorsey.​​