You may think the glowing complexion you get from exposure to the sun makes you look good. However, the wrinkles and age spots on your face don’t give you a healthy or beautiful look.
In fact, the skin color you get from either sitting in the sun or from a tanning booth can not only make you age more quickly, but it can also add to your risk of developing skin cancer.
The damage to your skin caused by sun exposure may not show when you’re young. However, it will show up when you are older. This is because the ultraviolet light from the sun damages the elastin or fibers in your skin. This damage will cause your skin to stretch, sag, and not be able to go back to as it was before due to its stretching caused by the sun.
Are You at Risk of Skin Cancer?
Everyone is at risk of coming down with skin cancer. Because of that, we all should limit the time we spend in sunlight due to its ultraviolet radiation.
However, there are people who have a higher risk of skin cancer that include:
• Fair skin people – Whatever your skin color is, you are at risk of coming down with skin cancer. Nevertheless, you may be at risk more than others if you have less pigment in your skin. The reason you are more at risk is that your skin’s lack of pigment or melanin means that you also have less protection from the UV radiation of the sun. People who are more vulnerable to skin cancer are those who have red or blond hair and eyes that are light-colored. If you have a tendency to freckle or if you sunburn easily, you will develop skin cancer more easily than a person with darker skin than yours and doesn’t have a tendency to freckle or burn.
• Your sun exposure is excessive – If you spend a lot of time in the sun, you are more likely to develop skin cancer. This is especially true for people who don’t protect their skin with clothing or sunscreen. If you spend time tanning with tanning beds, you are also at risk of developing skin cancer.
• Sunburns history – A child or teenager who has had blistering sunburns has a greater risk of developing skin cancer during his or her adult years than one who hasn’t.
• Moles – If you have many moles or your moles seem to be abnormal, your risk factor of developing skin cancer is higher. Moles that are more irregular in shape or are larger than most normal moles are more likely to become cancerous. Abnormal moles must be watched regularly for any changes to them.
• High-altitude or sunny climates – If you live where the climate is sunny and warm, you most likely are exposed to more sunlight than people living in colder climates. Higher elevations also expose a person to more radiation because the sunlight is strongest at high elevations.
• Skin lesions that are precancerous – A precancerous skin growth usually appears to be a scaly and rough patch.
• Skin cancer family history – You may have an increased risk of skin cancer if someone in your immediate family has had skin cancer.
• Radiation exposure – If you were treated for an acne and eczema condition with radiation, your risk for developing skin cancer is increased.
You should use sunscreen with an SPF protection factor of at least 30. Before you purchase a sunscreen, check the bottle of the sunscreen. The SPF protection factor should be written on it. Also, the words “broad spectrum” should be written on the bottle. Broad spectrum sunscreen will give your protection from both the UVA rays as well as the UVB rays.
For ultimate protection follow these suggestions:
• 20 to 30 minutes before going out into the sunlight, apply sunscreen. If you plan to be in the sun for more than 30 minutes, this is especially important.
• You should always make note of how long you have been in the sun. It is important for you to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
• If you should go inside for a while, you should also reapply sunscreen before going out into the sun again.
• After you have been swimming, you should also reapply sunscreen after you come out of the water.
• You should also apply an amount of sunscreen that will give you enough protection. In order to cover the entire surface of your body, you should apply at least 1.5 fl. oz. If the amount of sunscreen you are going to use will fill a shot glass, it should be enough.
• Apply the sunscreen by smoothing it over your skin without rubbing it in.
• All your skin that is exposed should be covered with sunscreen. For those spots such as those on your back, get someone to help you.
Clothing can Protect You from the Sun’s Rays
You can actually test the clothing you plan to wear when you go outside in the sun. To test the clothing put your hand inside of the clothing. Then test the clothing by putting your hand inside it and shining a light onto it. If your hand is visible to you, the clothing item will give you little protection. Apply sunscreen under the item of clothing or choose another item to test and wear if more suitable for protection.
A hat will not only cover your scalp, but it will also help to keep your face, eyes, neck, and the top of your ears out of the sun. The brim of the hat should be at least 3 inches to give you ample protection from the sun.
Clothes with SPF or UPF are a More Convenient Sun Protection
Sunscreens do give you protection from the sun’s rays. However, you may find that clothes built for sun are much more convenient. One type of sun protective clothing for women is a long sleeve sun shirt that can also be found in a full coverage version. These can be multi-taskers by cooling down a woman’s skin, getting rid of moisture, protecting a gal from UV rays, and providing ventilation as well.
Sun protective clothing for women and men has the following advantages:
• The wearer actually feels cooler.
• They can make it unnecessary to reapply sunscreen.
• They will protect you totally without missing any spots.
• They will protect you from both aging your skin and skin cancer.
Sunglasses can Give Your Eyes Sun Protection
The rays of the sun can damage your eyes and the skin that surrounds your eyes. Failing to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays may cause you to lose vision, damage your cataracts, cause macular degeneration to an eye, or cause eyelid cancers.
However, you can prevent these conditions by following these protective strategies:
• You should wear sunglasses year-round when out in the sun. The sunglasses should block both UVA and UVB sunlight.
• Since sunlight is strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, you should be sure to wear sunglasses when outside between those times.
• Consult an ophthalmologist if you develop an eye condition, or consult a dermatologist for any problems with the skin surrounding your eyes.
Avoid Being in the Sun Between 10 AM and 4 PM
Sunlight is strongest at the times above. If you sit in the sun at that time, you most likely will damage your skin. During those time find shade from trees or patios. If you have sensitive skin, you must avoid the sun during its peak time.
Why is it important for you to avoid skin damage from the sun? One reason is that you will age prematurely, but even more important is you need to avoid skin cancer. There are many ways mentioned above to protect you from the sun’s rays. One really important one is the use of sunscreen. Besides sunscreen, there is also clothing designed to protect you from the sun such as hats and sunglasses.