Research also shows it only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person’s risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life.
Of the survey respondents who reported getting sunburned, 28% reported that their sunburn was severe enough that their clothes were uncomfortable. Among those who were sunburned, the top four places they were burned were their face (60%), arms (59%), shoulders (55%), and neck (41%).
Dr. Houshmand says part of the increase in sunburns can be attributed to not knowing sunburn risks. The survey found that 39% of respondents are unaware of one or more of these sunburn risks:
- 24% do not know you can get sunburned on a cloudy day.
- 15% are unaware that you can get burned through a car window.
- 9% did not know that people with dark skin can get a sunburn.
- 7% are unaware that sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer.
“This increase in sunburns is very concerning,” says Dr. Houshmand. “Both tanning and sunburning damage your skin. The more you tan and sunburn, the more this damage builds up over time, increasing your risk of premature skin aging, including age spots, sagging and wrinkling, and skin cancer.”
To protect yourself from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone practice safe sun by:
- Seeking shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection, when possible. For more effective protection, choose clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.
- Applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. This year, an estimated 197,700 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022.
To read further about my skin cancer experiences check out my Page Skin cancer risks in general and my three skin cancer surgeries in particular.