A sunburn that isn’t too severe every now and then shouldn’t pose much of a problem as your skin is able to naturally cope with such exposure. However sometimes a really bad case of sunburn can actually lead to second degree burns, dehydration and/or secondary infection. Long-term exposure, as I’m sure you’re aware, can cause various types of skin cancer. But you can significantly decrease your risk by regularly applying sunscreen.
“even one or two” sunburns at an early age can double the risk of skin cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Every time you get sunburned, you damage your skin cells and increase your risk of developing skin cancer”. So, yes, getting a sunburn is bad for you even if it doesn’t happen often; the more sunburns you get, the worse it is. However, it depends on the severity of the sunburn and the age of the victim. Getting sunburns at younger ages increases the risk of skin cancer, though, sunburns at any age are unhealthy. More severe sunburns are also worse because they force more stress on your skin, making your body work harder to repair the damage. If it’s just a slight sunburn, I would just put some aloe on, and not worry about it.
Just to add on to the other answers: While excessive exposure to sunlight most commonly leads to severe damage to the skin resulting in skin cancer (that can then leave you more susceptible to other forms of cancer), sun exposure can also cause damage to your eyes, resulting in cataracts and damage to the corneas. Additionally, prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation has adverse suppressive effects on your immune system. If you are getting burned, even “every once in a while,” consider whether being tan is really worth the risk of cancer, especially when there are so many great fake tanning alternatives available now.
The simple answer is yes, always use sunscreen and wear sunglasses if you will be out in the middle of the day, or for more than a few minutes, even it is just driving or riding in the car. A hat is an excellent idea as well, if not, remember to put sunscreen on the part of your hair, on your ears and neck. There ae many factors that come into play for any one individual to end up with skin cancer, but there are other damages as well and it is a risk that you can control by protecting yourself.
Just one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma. Seek shade, use sunscreen and do not burn. Any sunburn is too much.
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