By now, almost everyone who cares about good skin, fighting the effects of aging, and looking their best (like most of my readers) has been told to wear sunscreen. The summer season is the time of year when more exposure to the sun is common. It is especially important to understand how sunshine affects our skin, how to protect it, and avoid skin cancers, while still enjoying the great outdoors. Here are five things to know about sun protection and skin cancer.
The Damage Caused by UV Rays
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage the DNA of skin cells. This can permanently alter the appearance of the skin’s pigmentation and cause skin irregularities, wrinkles, and sags. According to the American Cancer Society, there are three types of UV rays, UVA, UVB, and UVC. While UVA rays are harmful and should be avoided, UVB rays are the most harmful. They are more energetic than UVA rays, cause more sunburns, and can directly alter the DNA of skin cells. UVB rays are thought to cause most skin cancers. UVC rays do not penetrate into our atmosphere and are not sunlight, so they are not cause for concern at this time.
Skin Cancer and Early Warning Signs
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each day! Skin cancer is, by far, the most common form of cancer. Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma is cancer that starts in the cells that give skin color. Therefore, it’s very important to pay attention to common moles on the skin. If the color of the mole spreads outside the borders of the mole, that could be an early warning sign of trouble. If you see this, make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately. If ignored, melanoma can spread from the skin into organs of the body and cause death. I have friends that visit their dermatologist once a year to get checked, just as a precaution. At Naturally…You we are all about precaution, prevention, and protection!
Different Shades of Sun Screen
The best form of prevention and protection is to stay inside and avoid the sunshine. I once worked with a woman who rarely when out in the sun. She has exquisite skin and a nice shade of pale, but let’s face it, most of us spend time outdoors, at least some of the time. For people like us, there is sunscreen. Using sunscreen slows the aging of the skin and prevents sunburn.
But not all sunscreens are created equally. Most fall into two categories, physical blockers, and chemical blockers. Physical blockers are made of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These tend to be less irritating and block UV radiation across the UVA and UVB spectrum. This is knowns as the broad spectrum, and you may see those words on the product packaging. While effective, many physical sunscreens can leave your skin with a chalky white appearance. Chemical blockers can have a narrow spectrum of UV coverage and carry a risk of contact allergy and irritation. These blockers, however, can be formulated to blend into skin better, giving a more natural appearance to the ones wearing it.
When to use Sunscreen
Everyone should use sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy, you are going to be indoors all day, you plan to wear a big hat, or sit in the shade. Everyday. Period.
The SPF Mystery, Solved!
On every bottle or jar of sunscreen, you will see something called an SPF with a number next to it. The SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the number indicates the degree of protection it offers. For example, an SPF of 15 means that it will take 15 times the UV exposure to cause a mild sunburn when compared to unprotected skin. The higher the number, the greater the protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreens that are SPF 30, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant (holds effectiveness for 40 minutes). Apply it liberally over all exposed skin, and since sunscreens are often not waterproof, it’s a good idea to reapply it every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
The sun can damage your skin, and skin cancer affects millions of Americans each year. These five things to know about sun protection and skin cancer give you the knowledge to stay healthy. Armed with the proper knowledge and the right sunscreen, you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities, avoid harmful UV rays, and still look young and vibrant. For more information on this or any health and wellness topic, visit naturallyyoufl.com. There you can chat with me directly. I’m always available to discuss your health concerns, so reach out on my site. I look forward to chatting with you soon.