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The Base Tan Myth on "Don't Fry Day"

Nurses Article   (1,003 Views 10 Replies 848 Words)
by J.Adderton J.Adderton, MSN (Member) Writer Verified

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN .

7 Followers; 53 Articles; 27,087 Visitors; 260 Posts

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The 4th annual National Sun Safety Day, "Don’t Fry Day" promotes sun safety to kick off the summer months.

The Base Tan Myth on "Don't Fry Day"

Growing up, my dad would tell “after you burn once, you will not burn again all summer”. In my teens, I would sun bath on our black rooftop and use suntan oil minus the sunscreen. Today, much more is understood about sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer. On May 24, 2019, The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention is kicking summer off with “Don’t Fry Day”.  The timing could not be better with millions enjoy Memorial Day weekend outdoors.

Compelling Statistics

Skin cancer is preventable, yet 3.5 million cases of skin cancers are diagnosed each year.  Other compelling statistics include:

  • One in five children will develop skin cancer when they grow up
  • Estimated one American dies every hour from skin cancer
  • For young adults 25-29, melanoma is the most common form of cancer
  • Cases of melanoma continue to rise at a rate higher than any of the seven most common cancers.
  • The vast majority of melanoma cancers are caused by the sun

The “Base Tan” Myth

Many people are relaxed by sunning and like the healthy glow of tanned skin.. Unfortunately, there is no safe tan. Even on cool and hazy days, UV rays strongly filter through the clouds. DNA or cellular damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays leads to pigment changes in the skin (aka suntan). A suntan is the skin’s protection from further sun damage.

Tanning Beds and the Ugly Truth

Using a tanning bed or booth to tan exposes skin to harmful UV rays. Indoor tanning is especially popular among young women and teen girls.  According to the CDC, people who begin tanning at an early age have a higher risk of melanoma. In fact, federal, state and local governments have taken steps to protect people under the age of 18.  The US Department of Health and Human Services have set a goal to reduce the number of high school students who tan indoors to 14% by 2020.

Do Eyes Actually Sunburn?

UV rays from sun exposure are harmful to your eyes and vision.  A large amount of UV exposure in a short time frame is likely to cause photokeratitis, otherwise known as “sunburn of the eyes”.  An eye sunburn may cause pain, reddened eyes, tearing and a gritty feeling. The eye irritation is temporary and rarely causes permanent damage.  Long-term exposure to UV radiation can be serious. Research has shown the risk of cataracts and retina damage is higher with exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years.  You can protect your eyes by wearing quality sunglasses and hats or caps that shade eyes when spending time outdoors. Sunglasses should meet the following guidelines for optimal protection:

  • Block  99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation
  • Screen out 75 to 90% of visible light
  • Matching in color without distortion or imperfections
  • Gray lenses for proper color recognition
  • Contact lenses should block UV rays

Don’t forget to protect the eyes of babies and children.  Wearing sunglasses, finding shade and wearing hats with a wide brim are ways you can protect young eyes.

Don’t Fry and Be Safe

The National Council on Skin Care gives several things we can do to stay safe in the sun this summer.

  • Remember, preventing overexposure to the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer.
  • Don’t burn. Use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and provides protection for both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Skip sun tanning and tanning beds.  
  • Cover up for protection (long-sleeve shirt, hats, sunglasses ect.)
  • Keep in mind the sun's UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm.
  • Find shade and use umbrellas.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours (even if cloudy) and after sweating or swimming.
  • Be aware water, snow and sand reflect the sun’s harmful rays and increase your risk of sunburn.
  • Check out the UV index in your area. 
  • Get vitamin safely through vitamins and food sources instead of sunning.

Safely Enjoy the Summer Sun

The 4th annual National Sun Safety Day, "Don’t Fry Day", on May 24, 2019 promotes sun safety to kick off the summer months.  This day also increases the awareness of protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging rays year-round. Don’t forget to protect children who typically spend more time outdoors than adults. What are you going to do to protect yourself on and everyday?

Check out these links for more information:

Environmental Protection Agency’s daily UV index for your area.

Don’t Fry Day Resources and Toolkit

American Cancer Society Skin Cancer Information

I am a nurse with over 20 years experience in a variety of settings. I enjoy writing about what I encounter in my daily practice.

7 Followers; 53 Articles; 27,087 Visitors; 260 Posts

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3 Followers; 26,232 Visitors; 5,359 Posts

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has told me they are working on a base tan before their upcoming beach vacation.

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amoLucia specializes in LTC.

45,410 Visitors; 5,023 Posts

TY for the ever important info.

Sadly, too many will seek out that 'gorgeous tan' either thru plain old denial or ignorance of the facts.

More sad is the belief that damage from exposure won't occur for many years to come so the high risk is minimized by many.

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Kitiger has 40 years experience as a RN and specializes in Pediatrics.

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"Remember overexposure to the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer." (J.Adderton, MSN)

 

Is that what you meant to say? Don't you mean, 'Remember PREVENTING overexposure to the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer' . . . ?

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LilPeanut has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in NICU/Neonatal transport.

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Pale is cool!  :D

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

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I grew up in sunny Southern California, and was brown all year round. I also spent my adolescence sunning myself with baby oil and a reflective blanket to lie on. I didn't realize until I'd been in Oregon for about a year that I was really, really pale. I mean, my legs won't blind you if I wear shorts in the summer, but compared with the skin color of my youth I look like someone who needs iron infusions.

Then, as an adult, I continued my sun-loving ways up until about the age of 50, using tanning beds, fans, and music to mimic the summer days I missed so much, being in a rainy climate. It helped so much with my winter depression that I went every other day for months. Now, of course, I know better and do better; and I stay out of the sun, especially on my trips to the Caribbean where it's sunny and hot all the time. I don't know if I'll ever develop skin CA, although I won't be at all surprised if I do. I can't take back the past, all I can do is avoid sun exposure from now on. Thank you for this article.

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J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN.

7 Followers; 53 Articles; 27,087 Visitors; 260 Posts

22 hours ago, Kitiger said:

"Remember overexposure to the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer." (J.Adderton, MSN)

 

Is that what you meant to say? Don't you mean, 'Remember PREVENTING overexposure to the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer' . . . ? 

Absolutely!  Thanks for picking up.

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

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I've always been fascinated by how what's fashionable is historically linked to socioeconomic standing.   Being tan is one of those things that is linked historically to class.

Used to be the pale woman was a privileged woman. She didn't have to work outdoors, heck she didn't have to work at all! The more pale, the more indoor leisure time she enjoyed, the more wealthy and elite she was.  Women would wear makeup to make themselves appear even more pale, more "elite" and that was a dangerous thing considering what was in that stuff! 

Fast forward to modern industrial times where the woman that has the sun-kissed tan is the one with the leisure time to sit and enjoy the sun instead of toiling away at an indoor job. Now that woman is the "elite" privileged one that doesn't have to work and the darker the tan the more leisure time she has.  The cosmetic industry of course jumped on board with both feet!  Just look at the vast array of self-tanners there are on the shelves. While maybe not as dangerous as the old skin whitening makeup was we've probably all seen at least a few people that peculiar shade of orange that can only be achieved by self tanning gone wrong! 

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RobbiRN has 25 years experience as a RN and specializes in ER.

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I'm going to swim upstream on this one. I don't lay out or tan, but I've lived a lot of my life outdoors. I do wear a visor and limit my mid day exposure to harsh sunlight.

When I was at a dermatologist for a routine check, she started lecturing me for not wearing sunscreen.  Half tongue-in-cheek, I quipped: "I think someday we're going to find out that sunscreen was more dangerous than the sun."

She froze for a second. "You may be right. We started with 2 to 3 chemicals. Now we're up to 8 or 9 and we really have no idea what these do to people long-term."

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11 hours ago, RobbiRN said:

I'm going to swim upstream on this one. I don't lay out or tan, but I've lived a lot of my life outdoors. I do wear a visor and limit my mid day exposure to harsh sunlight.

When I was at a dermatologist for a routine check, she started lecturing me for not wearing sunscreen.  Half tongue-in-cheek, I quipped: "I think someday we're going to find out that sunscreen was more dangerous than the sun."

She froze for a second. "You may be right. We started with 2 to 3 chemicals. Now we're up to 8 or 9 and we really have no idea what these do to people long-term."

Agreed, RobbiRN. I also think the research showing the collective decrease of vitamin D levels associated with increase in sunscreen use is interesting. While I wear sunglasses and sunscreen on the parts of my body where skin is the thinnest (shoulders, chest, face), I don't coat heavily everywhere. I prefer balancing the benefits of mild-moderate sun exposure with the risks of sunburns.

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4 Followers; 76,342 Visitors; 11,294 Posts

I heard a dermatology presentation a week ago that talked about the ramifications of how we older (ahem) folks worshiped the sun using baby oil.  And yes, got that "base tan" and hated white legs.  

Really fascinating look at skin cancer, increasing rates, and how to protect yourself.

They did talk extensively as well about the unsubstantiated fears about the ingredients in sunscreen, the scientific research into safety of sunscreens, and I have no qualms about using them. 

I've also seen some rather extensive surgeries related to removal of cancer on the face.  Including a family member who had about 1/3 of her nose removed due to melanoma.  She had a skin graft that look a bit like Frankenstein's monster for awhile with a vein snaked down from her hairline to her nose to feed the graft.  She was lucky in that it hadn't spread but melanoma is pretty famous for spreading to other parts of the body before you realize something is wrong. 

Put on sunscreen, wear a hat, long sleeves on a hike, etc.  Way better than having part of your face removed.  

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