With the official beginning of summer upon us we enter once again into that love-hate relationship with the sun. We love soaking up the warm rays and the endorphin boost we feel after a few hours outside, not to mention the fact that many people feel they look better with a little tan. However, we should also be aware of the dangers that come with sun exposure. With the incidence of skin cancer on the rise, it is time to get serious about sun safety now before it is too late.
In most cases, sun damaged skin appears slowly overtime. The sun breaks down the elastin fibers that make our skin tight, causing it to stretch and sag. The sun's UV rays are also responsible for the appearance of freckles, discolored areas of the skin, wrinkles, and the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin. This cosmetic damage is not even the worst the sun can do when compared to pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions.
So how can we enjoy the time outside and still keep our skin safe from the harmful rays? Here are a few tips to help stay sun-safe this summer:
Alicia Wager, ARNP.
Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every few hours thereafter.
Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection.
Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
Wear wide-brimmed hats, long sleeved shirts and pants.
Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths.
Avoid tanning beds.
Eighty percent of a person's lifetime sun exposure happens before age 18. Use these tips to not only protect you, but also to help your kids practice sun-safety and explain the dangers that come from not protecting your skin. For more information, contact your Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare provider.