Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy the beautiful weather outside. It’s also a time to make sure you’re protecting your skin from the sun and the damage it can cause. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays can cause sunburns, brown spots, age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and prolonged exposure can lead to more serious complications like skin cancer. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays.
How the sun affects our skin
The skin produces a protective pigment called melanin. When you’re exposed to the sun, your body produces extra melanin as a barrier. If your skin fails to produce enough melanin, the skin can become red and swollen, resulting in sunburn. Sunburn destroys the top layer of the skin, similar to the effects of getting burned by a hot iron.
Sunburns can lead to serious complications like skin cancer, one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all cancer diagnoses. Despite the well-known dangers of sun exposure, many people are complacent when it comes to properly protecting the skin. Take these tips and tricks with you this summer, and practice sun safety year round.
Apply sunscreen early and often. Protect your skin with a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
Wear your shades. Eyes are also susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun, so protect them with lenses that filter out ultraviolet rays.
Cover up. When you plan to be outside for any length of time, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a sun hat to enjoy the sun safely.
Find some shade. Whether it’s an umbrella, hat, tree, or tall building, try to avoid the sun when your shadow is shorter than your height (typically midday). This is when the intensity of the sun’s UV rays is the strongest.
Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. There is indisputable evidence that links the ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from tanning beds to melanoma. Play it safe and avoid these altogether.
Get regular skin exams. Early detection of melanoma or skin cancer sooner is easier to treat successfully.