It’s that time of the year–the days are longer, the sun is brighter and it almost seems as though the beach calls you by name. But before you go and pile on the tanning oil, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Sun light can do a lot more than just give you some color, in fact, prolonged exposure to sunlight causes brown spots; red, scaly spots; drying and pre-mature aging; and, worst of all, skin cancer. This is caused by Ultra Violet (UV) radiation from the sun.
There are 3 types of UV radiation:
UVA Radiation was once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage and pre-mature aging. UVA penetrates deeper and has stronger effect on the skin. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass.
UVB Radiation affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. It is the most intense between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm when the sunlight is brightest. It is also more intense in the summer months accounting for 70% of a person’s yearly UVB dose. UVB does not penetrate glass.
UVC Radiation is almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer and does not affect the skin. UVC radiation can be found in artificial sources such as mercury arc lamps and germicidal lamps.
UV radiation is one of the major creators of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that attack our cells resulting in damaged skin.
Despite the well-known dangers of sun exposure, many of us, on occasion, get lazy when it comes to protecting our skin or maybe we haven’t come to the reality that the temporary look it gives, truly isn’t worth the consequences it may bring.
Here are the American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2014:
* About 76,100 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 43,890 in men and 32,210 in women).
* About 9,710 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 6,470 men and 3,240 women).
The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.
Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2% (1 in 50) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics.
Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.
For example, people often forget to protect sensitive spots like the tops of the ears, the hairline, the “V” of the chest, the nose and the hands. The Skin Cancer Foundation says 80 percent of skin cancers occur on the head, scalp, neck and hands.
Although sunbathing is bad for everyone, it’s an especially bad idea for fair-skinned people (sorry guys, I don’t make the rules). Many of you are not even able to tan and just end up with a painful burn. If you must, take it slowly and let your skin gradually build up a tan to provide some protection. And don’t use tanning oils, which enhance the effects of ultraviolet rays and worsen a burn. You may as well be coating yourself with cooking oil.
Here are a few tips to help protect yourself this summer:
1. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
2. Whenever possible, seek shade.
3. Use a broad spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30.
4. Reapply sunblock at least every two hours. You should apply it more frequently if you have been swimming or sweating.
5. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and if possible, tightly woven, full-length clothing.
6. Wear UV-protective sunglasses.
7. Wear lip balm with sunblock with an SPF 15 or higher.
8. Avoid sunlamps and tanning salons.
9. Be aware that the sun’s UV rays can reflect off water, sand and concrete, and can reach below the water’s surface. Certain types of UV light penetrate fog and clouds, so it is possible to get sunburns even on overcast days.
10. If you are taking antibiotics or other medications, ask your health care professional if it may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
So before you visit the beach or leave the house at that, I hope the message of this article stays in mind. Together we can work to lower the rate of skin cancer and of course reduce premature aging! Stay tuned for some great tips on how to pick the right sunblock.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The Aesthetic & Wellness Center is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site. After reading articles, watching videos or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider or skin care specialist.