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Getting Sunburned Is Much More Serious Than You Think, Here’s Why

Getting Sunburned Is Much More Serious Than You Think, Here’s Why

Playing With Fire: The Dangers Of Sunburn

Nothing is quite so relaxing as lying outside on a sunny day and watching the clouds drift by. While this might be pleasant for the mind, the skin takes exception. That warm sun is working its way slowly but inexorably into the skin and starting a process that will only worsen over the years. We often cannot see the damage that it causes, especially to those who don’t burn easily. But what is happening underneath your skin can be more damaging than we realize. To put it bluntly, getting sunburned is not something to laugh about.

The Sun and Cancer

It may be of no surprise to you that the sun and skin cancer go hand in hand.

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But did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer?

And that in the U.S. alone, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year? Of the three main types of skin cancer, melanoma is the deadliest. It only takes getting sunburned five times as a child to increase the risk of developing melanoma by 80 percent. The other two types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — are both associated with sunburn and sun exposure. Melanoma requires diagnosis by a medical professional and treatment often involves surgery, radiation, medication- or in other cases, chemotherapy.

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Avoidance and Vigilance

To prevent sunburn, avoid being out in the sun when possible and use sunscreen and prescription sunglasses when sun exposure is unavoidable. If you have a history of getting sunburned and a mole appears, don’t panic. Learn the ABC’s of skin cancer. Checking moles for asymmetry, border irregularities, color, diameter, and evolution can not only help spot skin cancers early, but can even alert you about potential pre-cancers like actinic keratoses.

Sunburn and the Immune System

Ordinarily the body attacks perceived dangers to prevent illnesses. During sun exposure, however, the body does not recognize the burn as a threat and actually reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. This can lead to a myriad of non-skin illnesses such as internal cancer, chronic infections and breakouts of Herpes simplex.

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Keep an Eye Out

Sunburn can be pretty obvious when it occurs on the skin, but the eye can also become sunburned. Symptoms include watering, a gritty feeling, or the sensation that there is something stuck in the eye. Prolonged unprotected sun exposure to the eyes can lead to cataracts, retinal damage and macular degeneration. These potential vision problems highlight the need for prescription sunglasses and hats that provide good shading for the eyes.

Go With a Pro

If a mole appears and you have a long history of getting sunburned, try to avoid self-diagnosis. If the ABC’s mentioned earlier point to an abnormality, see a doctor. Avoid picking at or scratching the mole and make sure to get to a doctor immediately if melanoma is suspected.

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Can Sun Damage Be Predicted?

It would be great if there was some sort of measuring device that alerted the user that too much time is being spent in the sun. Unfortunately, no such device currently exists. There are genetic tests that help in predicting the potential risk a person has of developing skin cancer. Outside of genetic testing, certain skin types are more susceptible to the sun than others. A red-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned individual has the highest risk for sunburn/skin cancer, while people with darker skin pigments have the lowest risk.

As you look back at the consequences of getting sunburned and the damage it can cause, you might start to think twice about putting on some sunscreen or a hat. Making sure you know the signs can not only save you financially later down the road, but paying attention to your skin will help you to maintain a more healthy and youthful look.

Featured photo credit: Untitled/Maggie Brauer via flic.kr

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Paisley Hansen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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