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Can You Prevent Skin Cancer Following a Sunburn?

By Chris Brown

When the relaxing, warm sunlight of summer draws you outside, it is important to avoid the overexposure to ultraviolet rays that lead to painful, and potentially cancerous, sunburns. The occasional sunburn is a near inevitability of those who enjoy catching summer rays, but even five sunburns can double one's chances of developing melanoma skin cancer. This is scary when considering that, according to, two people die of skin cancer every hour in the U.S. While ideally sunburn  prevention is ideal, once the burn occurs there are a couple scientifically-backed solutions that may help prevent or limit skin cancer formation.

Possible Post-Burn Skin Cancer Preventions

Once a burn hits, whether it starts the process of skin cancer formation is primarily up to genetics and luck. However, there are two topical solutions which have shown some effectiveness in lessening skin cancer risk and growth.

Retinol - The Vitamin A derivative, retinol (or Rentin-A), encourages cell turnover and has been shown to prevent skin cancer development and reduce sun-related skin aging. Oftentimes, this ingredient is included with anti-aging products. It is important to note, that skin regularly treated with retinol is more susceptible to future ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, it is even more vital to lather up retinol-treated skin with sunscreen.

Efudex cream - For those already diagnosed with pre-cancerous skin growths, Efudex cream may be able to reduce the cancer cells. Efudex cream works by stopping abnormal cell growth which can slow or diminish cancerous development. The cream can cause short term skin discoloration or irritation and more sensitive to future sunlight exposure.

What About Aloe Vera?

A popular product for soothing sunburns and reducing their pain, aloe vera unfortunately has shown no evidence of use in skin cancer prevention. Aloe vera does hydrate burnt skin and can reduce swelling which helps the healing process, so it certainly doesn't hurt to apply, but don't expect it to stop future complications.

Sunburn Prevention Is Key

The limited products which can reduce cancer risk following sunburn shows just how important it is to prevent skin cancer opportunities from the outset. While one option is to invoke the vampiric life of sun avoidance, it is more practical to simply apply sunscreen before entering sunny environments. Sunscreen is not a cure-all and must be applied regularly (every two hours in the sun and following any dip in water), but it can limit your skin's exposure to cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. Remember that inconsistent sunscreen application significantly reduces its effectiveness.

With sunscreen consistency (and personalized medical applications), you can enjoy the summer sun while staying safe and cancer-free.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Boise, Idaho.

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