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How do occasional sunburns affect my risk for melanoma?

In general, those people who are exposed to intermittent high-intensity sun exposure are more at risk for developing melanoma than those people who have chronic lower level sun exposure. Therefore, if you go out a few times a year -- either on vacation or the first nice day in May -- and burn, you are at a higher risk than those people who do not. The fact that you burn tells me that you are probably fair-skinned and therefore even more at risk. Remember that burning (and the tanning that follows) is your skin's way of saying it was injured by the sun, and it is trying to protect itself by creating a tan. However, a tan is really a low level of sun protection and should not reassure you that you can go out in the sun without protection. Therefore, it's never a good idea to go to a tanning salon before a trip to get a good "base tan" because this will give you a false sense of protection.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.