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Worried about sunburn risks...need facts.

I am a 40 year old male and despite my good efforts, I got a pretty serious sunburn on my back and scalp this last weekend. Here is a brief sunburn history....as a child my parents rarely if ever put sunscreen on me so you can imagine how much sun I was exposed to since I loved being outside. There were several significant sunburns on trips to the beach during this time...but I probably was tan a lot of the time...however I still was exposed unprotected quite a bit especially on face arms and legs. Once I reached my teens, there was a brief time where I would lay in the sun unprotected to try to tan and got occaisional burns,also I often played basketball unprotected without a shirt and burned my shoulders and face some. When I was about 25 or so I got the most severe sunburn of my life. I was fried all over and had chills and severe pain and peeling although I don't think I had water blisters but I am not sure. That was around 15 years ago and at that time I got educated on the dangers of the sun and did a lot better about not getting in the sun much unprotected. I did get a bad burn once afterwards on my face and arms watching a football game and last year I had a light burn. But for the last several years I have been very good at avoiding the sun and wearing sunscreen with few (if any) burns.

Now this brings me to this last weekend. I put Coppertone Sport SPF 50 all over my body but I forgot my scalp. Somehow the seat I was in must have rubbed off the sunscreen on my back and when I got out of the boat for 2 to 3 hours my back got scorched. I am so upset. For years I have been worried about all my previous sun exposure and been afraid that I will develop skin cancer and damaged, premature aged looking skin such as liver spots. I have adopted such good skin care habits and now this has come crashing down with this bad burn I now have. It was 3 days ago and it didn't blister. Its very painful and hasn't peeled yet although I'm sure it will.

For the most part before this last burn my skin looks pretty good for a forty year old but I do have a few moles here and there. Also, I do have quite a few light brown freckles on my shoulder blades. I am not a fair skinned person but I was very white this weekend when I got this last burn because I do not normally get in the sun. What I would like to know is how much additional risk has this last sunburn done to me in terms of increasing my cancer risk and aging my skin. I have tried so hard to protect myself since the errors of my youth and now I feel I have failed myself. Why did I not wear a shirt and a hat! I'm disgusted with myself.

Could someone please spell out what the statistics say about how much I have increased my risk of skin cancer including melanoma as well as explain to me the likelihood of noticeable long term skin damage such as liver spots, moles etc. If skin damage will occur, when will it become evident and what warning signs should I look for?
2 Responses
563773 tn?1374246539
One recent and severe exposure of UV radiation is not sufficient to cause skin cancer and malignancy. There are no statistics as such but definitely years of sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer. Melanoma has an irregular border, is asymmetrical, uneven color and increasing in size. Keep an eye on the moles and freckles. If you notice changes in the mole's/mark’s color, height, size or shape, you should have a dermatologist evaluate it. You also should have it checked if it bleeds, oozes, itches, appear scaly, or become tender or painful.

It is very difficult to precisely confirm a diagnosis without examination and investigations and the answer is based on the medical information provided. For exact diagnosis, you are requested to consult your doctor. I sincerely hope that helps. Take care and please do keep me posted on how you are doing.

Avatar universal
Thanks for the response Dr.Kaur!
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