NY Jets DL Coach Karl Dunbar takes skin care seriously, especially since he has vitiligo. As a coach, he helps his players not only understand how to become a great football player, but also how to take care of their skin and health. Since players spend a significant amount of time outdoors, we asked for his take on sunburn.
Is sunburn something you think about as a coach?
Yes sunburn is something I think of everyday since I’ve become aware of my skin condition – vitiligo.
What do you do when your players get sunburn?
Because our training staff does a great job of providing sunscreen and sun protective clothing for our players, it doesn’t happen very often.
Does sunburn happen often?
It happens sometimes when we play in Florida or Arizona early in the season, and games are at 1 p.m. In training camp we do a great job of practicing early or late in the day to avoid the Heat Index, when it’s high, and peak UV hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
Obviously with vitiligo, you think about sunburn. Is sunburn a concern amongst your players with darker skin tones?
No, the players with darker skin don’t seem to care until their skin starts peeling. We’ve done a great job of educating them about ultra violet sun rays and what they can do to your skin over any period of time.
If you’re unfortunate enough to get sunburn, home treatment measures may provide some relief from a mild sunburn. WebMD recommends the following:
• Use cool cloths on sunburned areas.
• Take frequent cool showers or baths.
• Apply soothing lotions that contain aloe vera to sunburned areas.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Cover-up with a hat, clothes and sunscreen outdoors.
While you cannot reverse sun damage, be SunAWARE from that point on and make a conscious effort to protect yourself from UV.
Last week, Journalist and TV Personality Anderson Cooper shared that he went blind for 36 hours after suffering eye sunburn. Cooper was in Portugal where he spent ample time out on the water reporting for CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Cooper was not wearing sunglasses.
“I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs and I think, ‘Oh, maybe I have sand in my eyes or something,” Anderson said. “I douse my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. I went blind for 36 hours.” Other symptoms of eye sunburn include blurred vision, irritation, pain, redness, tearing and (like Cooper) temporary vision loss called photokeratitis.
Just like our skin, our eyes are susceptible to damage from the sun. Exposure to intense sunlight for even a short period of time can essentially cause your eyes to develop sunburn. Both short and long term exposure to UV rays could create vision problems and eye damage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation.
It’s extremely important to not only protect your skin from sunburn but your eyes as well. We’ve compiled some simple tips to keep your eyes protected.
1. Always wear protective eyewear outdoors
The sun’s ultra violet rays reach the earth’s surface even on cloudy days. Also, bright reflected sunlight from sidewalks, sand, snow, water and other surfaces can cause UV damage just as easily as direct sunlight.
2. Look for UV 400 sunglasses
Look for lenses that blocks 100% of UVA and UVB rays (label could also say blocks 100% of harmful UV rays or UV 400 protection).
3. Size matters
Bigger frames mean bigger coverage. Look for wide temples so sunlight doesn’t seep in the sides of the sunglasses too.
Your eyes can sunburn too, so take care to be SunAWARE. We hope your eyes are feeling better Cooper! – Coolibar, Sun Protection You Wear
Mother Jesse Michener of Tacoma, WA walked into her home after work on June 19th to find her two daughters had both severely sunburned that day while at school.
Michener’s daughters Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, had spent the day outdoors for a school field day. While it rained in the morning, by noon the sun was out and students rushed outside to play. Being under the mid-day sun, when the sun is strongest, the girls began to burn.
Horrified, Michener immediately marched into the principal’s office only to learn that the school cannot allow sunscreen use on students due to a statewide policy and for liability reasons. The same policy exists in 49 states –preventing most students from applying sunscreen at school. The law exists due to the additives in lotions and sunscreens that can potentially cause allergic reactions and sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug. Exception is only granted with a written physician’s note. At the moment, California is the only state that allows students to apply sunscreen at school without doctor approval.
Michener’s daughter Zoe is extremely sensitive to sun due to a form of albinism. Even though school staff were aware of Zoe’s condition, she still was not allowed to use sunscreen.
Michener, outraged by this policy, wrote a post on her photography blog expressing her concern and placing her girl’s sunburn photos at the top (pictured above). Michener writes, “The practice of a blanket policy which clearly allows for students to be put in harm’s way is deeply flawed. Not only does a parent have to take an unrealistic step by visiting a doctor for a ‘prescription’ for an over-the-counter product, children are not allowed to carry it on their person and apply as needed… Something as simple as a sun hat might seem to bypass the prescription issue to some extent. Alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day!”
Since Michener posted, this policy has received attention from media outlets across the nation, including the Today Show on NBC. Schools also have started discussing the current sunscreen/over-the-counter drug policy, and begun pushing revisions.
What would you have done? Share your thoughts about sunscreen use in schools on our Facebook page!
Karl Dunbar can still recall the first day white spots began to appear on his skin.
“I was in seventh grade and my vitiligo started to appear on my right hand (on my thumb) and over my right eye,” says Dunbar. “At first, I tried to hide it by wearing gloves.” During high school and his early college years, his vitiligo became more apparent. “If you said anything about my skin we had to fight,” says Dunbar.
Vitiligo is a chronic disease that causes a loss of pigment in areas of the skin. People of all ages and from all ethnic backgrounds can develop the disease. Vitiligo does not cause physical symptoms and is not contagious, but it can have a significant impact both psychologically and socially.
“When I was younger I used to wonder how I would look if I didn’t have it,” he says.
Now the defensive line coach for the New York Jets (former defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings) Dunbar sees he is defined by what he does, not by his appearance. “There’s not a whole bunch of us [people living with vitiligo] doing this,’’ he says. “I just hope that everything that I do, I get judged by what I do — not by how I look.”
Dunbar’s coaching record proves that he has not let his appearance hold him back. Dunbar is credited with having built one of the most stout run defenses in the league over the past several years. The Vikings lead the league in rush defense from 2006–2008 and ranked second in 2009. He also coached perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen. The Vikings ranked in the Top 10 in total defense from 2008–2010.
On top of being a coach in the National Football League, Dunbar also thinks of himself as a wellness coach and hopes to raise awareness for vitiligo and help the general public understand more about the disease.
“If vitiligo starts at a young age, it can be damaging to a young person’s self-esteem,” says Dunbar. “Over time, I’ve grown to deal with the people’s view on vitiligo and things they don’t understand. By getting this out [the message about what vitiligo is] I hope to help kids dealing with this skin condition not go into a shell, but thrive in their social growth.”
“It’s the old saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,” says Dunbar.
Coolibar sun protective clothing has the great fortune to be working with Karl Dunbar to help him spread the word about vitiligo and the importance of sun protection. “Those with vitiligo need to take caution in the sun because skin burns quicker and easier,” says Dunbar. Sun protection products such as UPF 50+ clothing, which Karl wears during training season and games, can prevent over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays that can lead to health problems down the road. Everyone of every ethnic background should use sun protection, including clothing, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, as a part of healthy living.
If you had the resources to tell hundreds of thousands of people around the world about skin cancer and prevention would you? Director and Cinematographer Stan Kozma has worked in the film business his entire adult life. He also knows all too well how skin cancer can affect people’s lives, so he decided to take action. All is revealed about skin cancer and melanoma in his film “More Than Skin Deep: Skin Cancer in America”. The hour long film examines the cultural, historical and social facets of the disease, including how the tanning craze was accidentally popularized by Coco Chanel, as well as its medical, scientific and treatment aspects. Since 2009, the film has been broadcast over 500 times on 200 stations to approximately 500,000 viewers in addition to audiences attending film festivals across the U.S. and currently in Norway. This landmark film has so many elements that we decided to speak with Stan and get the reasoning behind his creation of the film.
Here’s a brief clip from the film “More Than Skin Deep: Skin Cancer in America.”
Why did you decide to create a film about skin cancer?
As the saying goes, “You choose some projects. Some projects choose you.” My fiancé, Kristi, a professional make-up artist was diagnosed with melanoma. After four tough years of operations and protocols, she was taken by the disease at age 35. During a brief period of remission, she and I vowed that upon her return to full health, we would do what we could to spread awareness about skin cancer. Prior to “Skin Deep”, I had produced a successful PSA campaign about sun awareness directed at kids, teens and parents. The documentary was planned as the next step.
Who do you think your audience is for this film?
The audience is anyone who is exposed to the sun – which is all of us. The film is directed at mid-teen to adult. Classroom versions have been created for middle school, high school and nursing academies.
What is your hope for every person who watches “More Than Skin Deep”?
One hope is that people who watch “Skin Deep” will want a friend or family member to watch it as well. We’ve received many requests to send copies of the film to a granddaughter or younger family member who might not realize the possible consequences of their sun habits.
What was the number one point you wanted to get across?
If there is one overarching message it is that skin cancer is REAL cancer. While the film addresses basal and squamous cancers, the primary focus is on melanoma. There are two main points we emphasized. One is that melanoma is an unpredictable and very treacherous cancer that although when caught early has a 99% cure rate, once it spreads it is very difficult to control. The second is that sun exposure or early sunburns can have long term serious consequences. Your body doesn’t really ‘get over’ a sunburn. It’s not like getting over a cold. Your skin stores that information for your entire life – and we get 80% of our lifetime sun exposure before we are 18.
How did you choose people to interview?
During Kristi’s treatments we traveled from Florida to California, New York and Bethesda for consultation and treatment. We met many brilliant and caring physicians and nurses during that time. I remained in contact with most of them after her passing. When it came time to make the documentary, not one turned down the opportunity to be on camera. In fact, several made important introductions that resulted in interviews that otherwise would not have been possible.
Sun protective clothing is now being recommended as the first line of defense by many leading organizations. The movie doesn’t really address the use of sun clothing as a protection method, was this intentional?
Several of our interviewees did mention sun protective clothing. Our limiting issue was time. The film had to be a specific length to adhere to broadcast standards. We had more footage than time. Since “Skin Deep’s” initial release in 2009, there have been significant developments in melanoma treatment and in skin cancer news. Currently we are looking to revise the film for a new broadcast version and a longer non broadcast version without time constraints. The importance and advantages of sun protective clothing will certainly be included in the update.
In your eyes, has the film been a success?
The film has been successful. But its full potential is far from being reached. “More Than Skin Deep” is the most engaging, emotional and entertaining film to examine skin cancer produced to date. It can be updated and advanced as new information and treatments become available. Custom versions of the film can be created for certain geographical regions and for ages and occupations.
Do you have any future plans as a skin cancer crusader?
In addition to continuing the outreach of “Skin Deep”, I am developing a feature film which Kristi and I started writing together and which chronicles the odyssey of her melanoma journey. It is not a standard approach to the subject and the intent is to create a narrative film that will do for skin cancer awareness what the film ‘Philadelphia’ did for HIV/AIDS understanding.
Looking up the UV Index is as important as looking up the weather online or watching the morning forecast every day. Just like the weather forecast, the UV Index forecast tells you what to wear. In addition, it indicates how you should prepare for the sun’s intensity so you can feel comfortable and keep your skin protected while outside.
Over-exposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun can cause more than painful sunburn. Repeat exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays over time can cause premature aging of the skin and contribute to your risk of developing skin cancer. The UV Index predicts UV intensity levels on a scale of 1 to 11+, and the higher the UV Index number is, the greater risk you’re at of damaging your skin. The Index takes into account clouds and other conditions that affect the amount of UV radiation reaching the ground.
Sun Protection Measures
Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV. If you burn easily, cover-up and use broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.
Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a wide-brim hat and sunglasses that block 100% of UV and using broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block 100% of UV, use broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A tightly woven shirt (or sun protective clothing), wide-brim hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ are a must, and be sure you seek shade.Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.
Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A tightly woven shirt (or sun protective clothing), wide-brim hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ are a must, and be sure you seek shade.
If your local weather channel doesn’t announce the UV Index, you can get your local UV Index on the Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise webpage. For smart-phone and tablet users, there are also UV Index apps available. Just search “UV Index” when in your app store. Look up your UV Index right now by entering your zip code into this UV Index widget.
By taking a few simple precautions daily, you can greatly reduce your risk of sunburn and causing permanent skin damage. At Coolibar, we like to use the SunAWARE acronym to explain the simple steps you can take to stay sun safe every day:
Hi, this is Dr. Davis for Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing. I wanted to talk to you today about conditions of the skin that can make you more sensitive to the sun. You might be surprised to hear that some of the things dermatologists prescribe to help improve your skin can actually make you more vulnerable to sunburns, such as medications for acne, tetracycline, doxycycycline while great for calming down other conditions; you might notice that you sunburn a lot easier when you’re taking those things. When you are prescribed a medication by your doctor, and if you have any questions, certainly ask about sun sensitivity potential. It might be something that is easily forgotten we don’t necessarily think about that, but in the summer especially when a doctor prescribes certain medications, for blood pressure… acne…it is something to be mindful of. We’ve had people who started new medications, went out to a ball game and got a sunburn unexpectedly where they normally wouldn’t have, so it can make a big difference. So, don’t forget to ask about sun sensitivity.
The other thing is there are certain medical conditions that can make you skin just intrinsically more sensitive.
Lupus – is actually triggered by sun exposure, ultraviolet light exposure, if your genetically prone to it
Vitiligo – which is a condition where you lose pigment in certain areas, those areas don’t have the ability to tan, they cannot protect themselves, so you have to do that for your skin.
…and there are several others, but just be sure that you ask those questions to your doctor.
What consequences could this medicine have?
What should I do if I have Lupus? And the basic things we’ve talked about in terms of sun protection are essential for those conditions.
Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.
Before Jennifer’s recent trip to Hawaii, she packed her sun hats, sun protective clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses in order to avoid bringing back a flamboyant red tone as a souvenir. So, did her pre-planning help her avoid a painful situation?
For the first time in my life I returned from a sunny vacation without a single sunburn! The idea that this fair skinned, red haired woman can spend a week in sunny Hawaii and not get burned is a new concept for me. I’ve spent countless hours in the sun with my darker complected friends only to contend with the pain of sunburn in the places I missed with sunscreen or in some instances a full out sunburn from not re-applying sunscreen at all (having too much fun to stop and re-apply) . Terms like lobster and tomato have been used to describe my skin’s reddish hue after a day on the beach…and I felt like a fool when I changed for dinner and my cute new sundress was overshadowed by my flaming skin!
I’m a proud 5 year Coolibar employee. When I was interviewing with the company, I remember thinking, “I don’t get it, isn’t all clothing sun protective?” I’ve since learned that not all clothing is equal in its ability to protect from the sun, plus it doesn’t matter if you’re not willing to wear it. So now, thanks to Coolibar, I’ve got my arsenal of UPF 50+ hats, swimwear, clothing, sunglasses, and dermatologist recommended sunscreen. I can spend endless hours in the sun, feeling glamorous, in my Coolibar stuff and I don’t have to worry about sunburn, skin cancer or wrinkles. I say, bring on the sun, I’m ready for it! I heart my Coolibar!