Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why do my shoulders burn in the sun faster than other parts of my body?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do my shoulders burn in the sun faster than other parts of my body?


My shoulders seem to sunburn before areas like my stomach, or legs- aside from applying ahigher SPF, what can I do to eliminate/reduce the risk of burning?


There is no particular medical reason that I can think of that would cause the shoulders to burn more rapidly than any other part of the body, assuming equal sun exposure. Therefore, I think it is more likely that your shoulders are burning more rapidly than other parts of your body because they are getting more direct sun exposure! For example, if you are standing up or walking around outside, the sun will directly strike your shoulders but only indirectly strike your legs or your stomach - resulting in more rapid burning. At the same time, the shoulders are harder to evenly apply sunscreen to than are the legs or stomach as you cannot see them as well, and this could also be contributing to your sunburn. I would recommend talking to your primary care doctor or a dermatologist to see if they have any recommendations about specific sunscreen products. Also, they will be able to give you general advice about protecting your skin from sun damage, which is one of the major causes of accelerating skin aging and also a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Please talk to your doctor!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.