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    Hidden Dangers of the Sun

    By By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
    May 25, 2012, 3:18:35 AM EDT

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    Warm, sunny days mean more outdoor activities. Be aware of sun related dangers, ranging from sunburn to sunstroke, before you head outside.

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    The most common symptom of too much sun is a minor sunburn. In extreme cases of sun exposure, there is a risk for sun poisoning, shock or even death.

    Minor Sunburn

    Overexposure to the sun without protective clothing or sunscreen can result in sunburn. A mild sunburn produces slight skin redness and mild pain. Other common symptoms are chills, fever and nausea or vomiting.

    Sun Poisoning

    Staying in the sun for long periods of time unprotected can end with a case of sun poisoning. Symptoms of sun poisoning are severe skin burning, blisters, headache, fluid loss resulting in dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and risk of infection, according to emedicinehealth.com.

    The symptoms of most cases of sun poisoning are easily treated at home. Start by getting out of the sun. Drink plenty of fluids (avoid caffeine) like water or sports drinks. Increase your normal fluid intake over the next few days to re-hydrate fully. Use cool showers, baths or compresses to take the heat out of your skin. Aloe Vera is also useful to cool the skin, according to sunpoisoning.org. The Aloe Vera can be refrigerated to cool you off even better. In the event of extreme cases of sun poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

    Shock or Death

    Sunburn without being properly hydrated can result in shock, or even death, in extreme cases.

    As the body works to cool itself, fluid is lost through sweating. Once the fluid loss is so great that the body is unable to compensate, blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs becomes inadequate. As a result, cell and organ function can begin to fail, and the risk of shock increases.

    Without proper medical care at this point, it is possible for a person to fall into a coma or even die.

    Sunburn Prevention

    Using the proper methods to prevent sunburn will do more than just reduce your discomfort. A person who experiences five or more sunburns in a lifetime doubles their risk for melanoma -- the most serious form of skin cancer, according to skincancer.org.

    • Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    • Wear a wide brim hat.
    • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
    • Wear UV protected sunglasses.
    • Wear a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.
    Take the time to apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before exposure to the sun and reapply it at least once every two hours. Reapply sunscreen frequently if you enter the water.

    Students across the U.S. in grades 4-8 competed in an art contest to draw images about how to stay sunburn-free. The winning artwork from each state can be found at the shadefoundation.org website.

    A few simple steps to protect yourself in the sun can prevent many hours of sunburn pain and help reduce your risk for skin cancer.


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    The winning poster from North Dakota courtesy of shadefoundation.org.

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