Not to be a "Debbie Downer" as you head off for your holiday fun in the sun, but a bad sunburn can lead to more than a night of agony—it could cause permanent damage or even lead to skin cancer down the road.
That probably isn't news to any of us, because we're inundated all summer long with ads and articles discussing sunscreen and sunblock, SPFs and UV rays.
We know we should be using sunscreen, but which one and what SPF? I asked Dr. Audrey Kunin, a dermatologist, to give us some simple tips for staying safe in the sun.
She told me sunscreens that claim to be above SPF 30 don't offer any more protection, although they frequently tout a higher price tag. We should look for the words "broad spectrum" and SPF 30 on the label to get the best protection.
And reapplying is the name of the game. Slather on a layer of sunscreen 30 minutes before you head outside, and every two hours after, for optimal protection from dangerous UV rays, even if the sunscreen is labeled water or sweat resistant.
If you do slip up and get a burn, Dr. Kunin has some unique remedies that you can find right in your kitchen cabinet. Her favorite is white vinegar, which has acetic acid that not only soothes the pain but also prevents long-term damage. And you may think that a bottle of mustard will only come in handy on your hot dog, but you can actually dab it on your skin to help prevent damage that leads to skin cancer. Baking soda, tea, and mayonnaise are other common products you can use to heal your sunburn without leaving the house or breaking the bank.
Most importantly, Dr. Kunin says treating burns immediately makes it more likely you'll prevent long-term damage.
Now go and enjoy the holiday. Happy July Fourth!