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What are my skin cancer risks? How bad is a tan on top of my skin health history? How good are my judgement skills about staying safe in the sun?
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mrberryz posted:
Hi, I am 22 years of age, male, white. I had a sunburn (not blistering) last year in 2011 (spent 10am-3pm in the sun doing a whole body exposure) and took steps to learn more about skin cancer risk factors and how to protect my skin better. My entire body's skin tone is definitely a shade darker after this burn. At the time I wanted to boost vitamin D. I didn't know about UV danger. I now wear sunscreen all of the time when I am outdoors or in the car driving. I've become quite obsessed with protecting my skin. Like a vampire. I accept the consequences of burning like I did in 2011, and there is nothing I can do about that now.
I can recall at least one sunburn in my childhood (or early teens?), but no more than 2-3 (perhaps just 2, but not 100% sure - how can really recall their childhood so well anyway...?). Mostly within the last 5 years I've done a lot of work on our 5 acres of land and odd jobs out in the sun unprotected (always tanning I guess) along with a normal life of going outside without thinking about protection like anybody else. I've been to a tanning booth twice.
Anyways, I was invited to play tennis the other day with my family and moved my sunscreen out my car (normal storage place). I started playing tennis realizing that I didn't have my sunscreen and it was all the way at home. It was a 35-40 min. drive to go back home and get it and we were only going to play for 90 minutes. I decided to stay unprotected in the sun. I didn't want seem weird to my family about complaining about not having my sunscreen. Why am I in the wrong if I can't do anything about it? I mean, it's easy to forget things and gets frustrating. I believed my family didn't have sunscreen on either (but boy was I wrong as one of them did!)
I didn't even think about a 10 min. trip to the nearby store to buy some more sunscreen. We were out in the sun from 1:30-3:00pm. I live in WA state, USA (northern US). I'm pretty sure we were out in least high UV (6-7/10). After 3:00pm onward I seeked shade. I seem to only get the worst of the sun at the most unfortunate circumstances. My fault??
Now I really regret doing this more than I did at the time. My skin is really dark but not burned. No peeling. Some warmth, some itching, some irritation/stinging. You can see some redness. My face, neck, ears, arms, and legs all got it. Not too bad, but a half an hour more maybe and I was real close to another sunburn.
Am I over-worrying or not? My cure to the issue is to keep the sunscreen bottle with my wallet and keys and keep it in my jean pocket, so it's always with me. I plan to get genetically tested in the future for all cancers and keep on eye on my skin for changes in the future as well as see a dermatologist as needed.


Source: I have a degree in biochemistry so I understand the mechanisms of tanning/burning.
Reply
 
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Elizabeth_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Mrberryz -

Good to hear you are taking precautions to reduce your risk of sunburn. Putting sunscreen on your face, ears, neck, arms and other exposed areas before you leave the house in the morning is a good start.

Unfortunately, worrying about past exposure will cause nothing but worry - you can't go back, just be proactive now.

Here are a few of resources to check out -

How Can You Cut Your Melanoma Risk in Half?
Take the Cancer Risk Health Check
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Let us know if this is helpful,
Elizabeth
 
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mrberryz replied to Elizabeth_WebMD_Staff's response:
Yes, your reply and resources are helpful. I will try a genetic test to get more solid answers to my health, but I appreciate your help given you cannot even see my face! Thank you
 
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Elizabeth_WebMD_Staff replied to mrberryz's response:
Hi Mrberryz -

Glad we could provide a little bit of help.

I can see your face in your profile pic, you are wearing a huge amount of blue sunscreen!

Wishing you many, many years of "all clear" check-ups,
Elizabeth


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