As a skin care professional I have had the opportunity to see the skin up close and personal. Our skin is the largest organ of the body. It is our first line of defense, protecting the rest of the body as much as possible. One of the most common conditions I have to deal with is sun damage. Minor sun damage can occur within a few minutes of being in the sun with out sunblock or sunscreen. That usually results in just a little red color and not much else. But prolonged, unprotected sun exposure can result in much worse. For those of us that worry about vanity, sun exposure can create hyperpigmentation (uneven darkening of the skin), it can dehydrate the skin making it look dry and accentuate wrinkles, and even worse free radicals can litterally age the skin to a point that may not be revearsable without a medical proceedure. For those who aren’t vain (and also for the vain to think about), continued exposure to the suns radiation will not only prematurely age you, it can cause cancer. So please make sure to wear your sun protection every day and see the doctor for a mole patrol at least once a year. If you have any uneven, irregular or dark moles or spots it is important to check it out as well.
So what would you do if you suffered a burn? I’m not talking about just sunburns (although there are some cases when the sun can burn just as bad as fire or chemical burns), I’m talking about things out of your control. The CDC (center of disease cotrol) says the following:
- On average in the United States in 2004, someone died in a fire every 135 minutes, and someone was injured every 30 minutes (Karter 2005).
- Each year in the United States, 1.1 million burn injuries require medical attention (American Burn Association, 2002).
- Approximately 50,000 burn injuries require hospitalization;
- Approximately 20,000 are major burns involving at least 25 percent of the total body surface;
- Approximately 4,500 of these people die.
- Up to 10,000 people in the United States die every year of burn-related infections.
- Only 60 percent of Americans have an escape plan, and of those, only 25 percent have practiced it (NFPA, 1999).
- Smoke alarms cut your chances of dying in a fire in half (NFPA, 1999).
With so many injuries due to burning, doctors have been able to create synthetic skin in a lab that will help the healing process, but it takes weeks to grow the specimens. During those weeks, without the protection of healthy skin, burn victims deal with infections that can actually cause death, not the burn. Amazingly there is a new technology being developed utilizing the patients own skin cells, they have found a way to litterally spray skin stem cells onto the burn, increasing the healing capability tremendously! In some cases, just a few days are needed to start to heal with amazing results. This “Skin Gun” as they call it works much like an airbrush or self tanning machine. See the video below and you will be amazed.
Meanwhile, please keep yourself out of the sun unless you have protection, stay hydrated and stay away from explosions and you will have the chance to be as vain as you need.