Sunshine — like all enjoyable things — has its good and bad sides. Knowing about safe sun exposure can help avoid dangers and prevent burn-injured skin. Burn patients need to be cautious about sun exposure and are generally restricted from any significant sun exposure for one to two years after injury. This necessitates a change for individuals such as landscapers and construction workers who work outdoors.
Newly-healed burned skin is very sensitive and fragile. Exposure of burn-injured skin to any sunlight is discouraged until all the red color has faded. Wounds may turn very dark brown or blotchy even after only brief exposure to the sun. Unprotected skin can experience a slight sunburn in as little as 12 minutes on a summer day. And long-term overexposure may lead to skin cancer even on uninjured skin. Sunburns can occur through exposed custom-fitted elastic garments. Skin covered by a typical summer shirt fabric can experience sun damage in about an hour. That’s because a typical cotton t-shirt has a sun protection factor (SPF) of only seven and offers significantly less sun protection than recommended by the medical community. Furthermore, a typical 30 SPF sun screen, even though it may claim to provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays, does not block all the sun’s damaging rays. To protect skin from the sun, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following guidelines. (Burn doctors’ additional recommendations are in bold type.)
Self-tanners work by using the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA combines with protein in your skin to create a tan. Sunless tanning creams are an acceptable alternative to tanning. Do not use tanning creams over grafted or donor areas until the skin has matured, 12–18 months post-graft. Try the patch test, using the product first on a small area to check for a reaction before applying to a larger area.