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Sunburn Center

Nutrition, Fitness and Lifestyle Choices for Sunburn

by
author image Mona Gohara, M.D.
Mona Gohara, M.D., practices general dermatology in Connecticut as part of the Advanced DermCare team. She graduated from the Medical College of Ohio, where she was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. She completed her medical internship at New York University Medical Center and her residency in dermatology at Yale University.
Nutrition, Fitness and Lifestyle Choices for Sunburn
Photo Credit Image Source/Image Source/Getty Images

Overview

Having healthy skin is not just dependent on one factor. Dermatologists often recommend certain protective foods and lifestyle choices. What is that old adage? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to the skin nothing could be closer to the truth.

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Eat and Drink Antioxidants

Ultraviolet (UV) light, environmental pollution and the thinning ozone create free radicals. These are small chemical particles that wreak havoc on the skin, causing skin cancer and premature aging. Antioxidants are the antidote to free radicals, eating them up in a Pac-Man sort of way. Having the body fortified with these antioxidants helps to speed up recovery and protect from long-term damage in the event of sunburn, a massive UV assault to the skin. Green leafy veggies, beans, pomegranate, berries, red grapes, red wine and nuts are great dietary sources of antioxidants. Making any of these a main part of your daily meals can make a difference in your skin health, both in the short and long term. A good rule of thumb is anything that is good for the heart is also good for the skin.

Outdoor Enthusiasts Are at a Higher Risk

Bikers, boaters, skiers, golfers, runners, gardeners and all other outdoors enthusiasts are at a higher risk of sunburn. The risk is linked to longer times spent in the presence of sun and higher likelihood of unprotected exposure to UV light. Oftentimes, sunscreen is not used as judiciously because of concerns surrounding reapplication with sweat and the slippery nature of the products. This is where the use of sun-protective clothing (UPF 50) can be very beneficial. Also, encouraging the use of sunscreen sticks instead of lotion can mitigate some practical reservations around SPF use in these settings.

Tanorexia

Studies show that use of tanning booths is addictive. The process actually elicits the release of chemicals in the brain that are comparable to those released with the use of addictive drugs.

While most people are aware of the dangers of outdoor tanning, many do not realize that indoor tanning is not a safe alternative and also causes cancer. Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the use of tanning beds as a known human carcinogen. Tanning booths have high-pressure sunlamps that deliver as much as 12 times the UVA dose compared to the dose received from outdoor sun exposure, making a 20-minute tanning session equivalent to a day at the beach. This lack of knowledge is why indoor tanners are roughly 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma. In fact, a recent study has revealed an alarming rise in melanoma among people ages 18 to 39. Over the past 40 years, rates of this deadly skin cancer grew by 800 percent among young women and 400 percent among young men. This surge is primarily attributed to an increase in tanning-bed use.

Here is the troubling truth: 1 million people in the U.S. go to a tanning salon every day. This accounts for nearly 30 million Americans who use tanning salons periodically, and 2 million to 3 million of them are teens.

Outdoor tanning is not a good alternative to indoor tanning. Neither is recommended, due to the higher risk of sunburn and skin cancer development.

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