Most of us have suffered from sunburn at one time or another in our lives. In fact, we’ve all probably seen more than just one sunburn when we looked in the mirror following a long day in the sun. But the truth about sunburn starts and ends with the fact that it can be hazardous. That’s why it’s important to prevent it whenever you can. And you can. You don’t have to suffer from sunburn; you just need to prevent it. There are a lot of things most of us don’t know about sunburn. For instance, did you know that just one blistering sunburn can double your chances of getting melanoma? It’s true. Suffering from just a single bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence can nearly double your risk of developing certain skin cancers. Here are more facts about sunburn you likely didn’t know, brought to you by dermatologists in New Jersey who care about your skin.

#1 Sunburn is a form of radiation

Yes, it’s true—sunburn is just another form of radiation. Sounds more serious when it’s put that way, doesn’t it? And so it is. Sunburn isn’t just a matter of rosy cheeks on a child in summer. Sunburn can be unhealthy, and it can even lead to cancer. Now, most of us who’ve experienced it won’t develop skin cancer, but because it’s a form of radiation, it’s important to protect your skin as much as possible. Ultraviolet rays, both UVA and UVB, contribute to sunburn. So be sure to wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 at all times when outside, particularly in summer. But don’t forget about sunscreens just because it’s winter, or even on those overcast days in summer. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are still getting through, penetrating the deep layers of your skin, potentially causing damage.

#2 Even dark-skinned people can get sunburn

Sunburn isn’t just for fair-skinned people. Every skin type and hue can develop sunburn. And, yes, people who are dark-skinned can even get sunburns that are painful and blistering. This is why it’s so important for everyone regardless of skin color to apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outdoors. Sunscreen needs a little time to seep into your pores and begin working. Use a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more.

#3 Some people can get sunburned in less than 15 minutes

People who are very fair-skinned need less than 15 minutes of time exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays to develop sunburn. If your skin is fair, never go outdoors for any length of time with exposed skin that is not protected by sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

#4 Just one blistering sunburn in childhood can double your chances of developing melanoma

Things You Did Not Know About Sunburn sunburn in childhood
Yes, it only takes just a single blistering sunburn that occurred in either childhood or adolescence to double your chances of developing melanoma later in your life. Additionally, your risk of developing melanoma doubles if you’ve experienced five or more sunburns at any age in your life. And if you think your friend who tans often is at more risk than you are because you stay out of the sun, you’re wrong. If you’ve had one of these blistering sunburns in the past, new research suggests that brief intense exposure to ultraviolet rays to the point of blistering sunburn can cause more damage than years of tanning.

#5 If you start now, you can stop sun damage

There is good news on all fronts—it’s never too late to prevent the sun’s ultraviolet rays from causing further damage to your skin. Take steps now and for the rest of your life to prevent sunburns, and you’ll prevent further damage from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

Sunburn—many of us think it gives us a healthy glow. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many people lying by the pool or on the beach without applying sunscreen. But the things you don’t know about sunburn can negatively impact your skin and your health. Using sunscreen with the proper SPF is just one important means of warding off a nasty sunburn that can double your chances of developing skin cancer in your life. For more information on how to prevent sunburn, consult with a dermatologist near you.