Doctor: Everyone, including dark-skinned people, gets sunburned

July 5, 2013 5:09:33 PM PDT
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention looked at sunburns and found that white young adults are six times more likely to get a sunburn than black young adults. In fact, no matter how dark your skin is, you can still get a sunburn; it depends on how long you're out in the blazing sun.

On these scorching hot days, if you forget the sunburn, you pay for it.

"I didn't realize black people could get sunburned," Regina Sunbler said.

Lot's of people think that. So did Karen Bowles, until she went to the beach in a new bikini.

"I'm peeling and my skin is coming off. I have big blisters and flakes. And I cried and I said, 'Oh mom I have skin cancer.' And she said, 'You're so insane, you have sunburn.' And I looked at her and said, 'Black people don't sunburn mom,'" Bowles said.

Now she uses sunscreen every time she goes outside. Ericka Rain-Woods learned the lesson after a day at the Schliterbahn.

"I was shocked because I didn't think me, as an African American, could be sunburned and I think it had to do with the length of time in the direct sun," she said.

She now wears sunscreen outside and a hat. Dr. Seymour Weaver, III tells every one of his patients to wear sunscreen no matter what their skin color.

"Even though a person who has pigmented skin has some protection but it's not like they can stay out there indefinitely," Weaver said. "There's still the potential of sunburn with melanin pigment."

So if you're outside and your skin begins to tingle and get hot, go inside.

"Use mild, anti-inflammatory hydrocortisone creams early to treat the area and that will help calm the skin down," Dr. Weaver said.

If you know ahead of time you're going to be out in the sun all day, Dr. Weaver says try taking an aspirin.

"If you take an aspirin, it helps to prevent sunburn by inhibiting prostaglandin, which are part of the inflammatory response that causes sunburn," he said.

So dark-skinned people may not burn as often, they may not get burned as badly, but they do sunburn and that's one pain they can avoid.

Dr. Weaver also says aloe vera gel and cold compresses can help stop the pain of a sunburn.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13


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