While most of us have had a sunburn at one point or another, it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 daily can help you avoid sunburns and reduce your skin cancer risk. 

That said, sometimes life takes a turn for the unexpected. Maybe you forgot to apply sunscreen before you left the house or didn’t pack sunscreen in your bag for re-applying during a long day at the pool. No matter the reason, if you have a sunburn, topical retinoids may help you reduce skin damage that could lead to skin cancer.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids like tretinoin may help you prevent skin cancer after sunburn. Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A that’s used as a topical treatment for signs of aging in the skin and acne. It works by regulating the skin cell cycle, meaning that it helps the skin shed dead cells and replace them with new, healthy cells. Retinoids also help stimulate collagen production in the skin. 

In the context of skin cancer protection, retinoids may help by repairing DNA damage in the skin caused by UV exposure. That said, retinoids make the outer layer of the skin thinner, which makes it more prone to sunburn. So, it’s crucial to limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside while using this medication.  

Prevent Future Sunburns

Ultimately, the best way to prevent skin cancer after a sunburn is to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Incorporate sunscreen into your morning routine so that applying it becomes a daily habit. Also, throw a small bottle of sunscreen into your bag before you leave the house so that you can reapply it if you spend a lot of time outside during the day. If you’re heading to the pool or beach for the day or another outdoor event, make sure to re-up your sunscreen every two hours to prevent sunburn. 

For more information about skin cancer risk after a sunburn, as well as treatment for sun damage and skin cancer screenings, reach out to The Bowman Institute today.