Skin Care Protection

Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the best ways to prevent the signs of aging, as well as the development of malignant, potentially fatal types of skin cancer. While some people think that being exposed to the sun for only a short period of time or having darker skin means that they don’t need to take measures to protect their skin, in fact, anyone who doesn’t adequately protect his skin from sun damage is at risk for developing mild to severe skin problems. Protecting your eyes from the sun is also very important.

However, keep in mind that tanning beds can be just as damaging to the skin as the sun.

How the Sun Damages Skin

The sun emits the following three types of rays that can damage the skin:

  • UVA: While UVA rays are responsible for giving people the appearance of being tan, overtime, these sun rays are serious harmful to our health. Recognized as a cause of skin cancer by the National Institutes of Health, UVA rays also damage other areas of the body, causing:
    • allergic reactions
    • cataracts
    • decreased skin elasticity
    • rashes
    • wrinkling.
  • UVB: This type ray emitted by the sun is responsible for sunburns. Like UVA rays, UVB rays are a leading cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging in the form of wrinkle.
  • UVC: Because the ozone layer effectively blocks UVC rays from entering our atmosphere, these rays are not considered a threat to our skin.

Sun Damage: Skin Cancer Statistics

Perhaps, the biggest threat the sun poses to our health lies in its ability to cause skin cancer. While many of us are aware of the relationship between sun damage and skin cancer, here are some shocking statistics about just how much damage the sun causes Americans:

  • About 20 percent of people in the United States (55 million people) will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.
  • Since the 1930s, the incidence of melanoma, the most lethal type of skin cancer, has increased by about 1200 percent.
  • Since 2000, the chances that a teen will develop skin cancer have doubled.
  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in women younger than 30.

 

Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Sun

Although the best sun protection tip is to minimize your time in the sun, you don’t have to give up your favorite outdoor activities to get effective sun protection. Similarly, for those of us who want to maintain a golden tan, there are some alternatives to baking in the sun.

Here are some helpful tips for preventing skin cancer and other associated damaged caused by the sun:

  • Avoid or limit use of tanning beds, as these emit some of the same skin damaging rays as the sun. Instead, try sunless tanning lotions to get and maintain golden skin.
  • Limit your time in the sun when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, which generally falls between 10am and 4pm during the summer.
  • Opt for shady areas when choosing a spot for a picnic or other outdoor activities. If you are in an open expanse that doesn’t provide any natural shade, bring a tent or large umbrella for protection from the sun.
  • Wear protective gear, such as hats, sunglasses and clothing that offers more coverage. Along with wearing these items that will offer sun protection, consider using an umbrella that will block the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 whenever you plan on being outside for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. If you are swimming or performing rigorous activities that cause you to sweat, remember that you will have to reapply sunblock to maintain adequate sun protection.

Resources

Ohio State University (February 2007). Sun Exposure: Precautions and Protection. Retrieved October 30, 2007 from the Ohio State University Web site: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-Fact/5000/5550.html.

Palo Alto Medical Foundation (n.d.). The Darker Side of the Sun. Retrieved October 30, 2007 from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Web site: http://www.pamf.org/health/toyourhealth/darkersun.html.