Sun Safety Tips for Healthy Skin
Facts About Sun Exposure
Spending time in the warm sun can be a fun and relaxing way to spend your summer days. It is important to know about the dangers of too much sun exposure and how to avoid skin problems, such as sun poisoning and skin cancer. There are three basic types of ultraviolet rays that are emitted from the sun: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA rays are accountable for almost 95% of the rays from the sun that reach the earth. These types of rays get into the skin much more deeply than the other two counterparts, and are considered to be the most dangerous types of rays. UVB rays are the most typical culprits that cause sunburn. In the US, UVB rays are most prominent between 10 AM and 4 PM from the months of April through October. During these months, people should pay special attention to wearing extra sunscreen. UVB rays can affect your skin all year round, so it’s important to be protected no matter what time of the year it is. UVA rays are also harmful, although not quite as powerful, but can account for severe skin sunburn as well. Most modern sunscreens protect against all three types of these damaging rays.
Changes in the Skin
As the human skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, it begins to look and feel different. Mild and moderate sunburn will show dark reddening of the skin’s surface accompanied by severe pain and peeling. Skin cancer is a much more serious side effect of too much sun exposure, and there are some warning signs people should be aware of. Almost half of all fair-skinned people will have some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Wrinkles can be increased as a person spends a lengthy period of time in the sun, and can be an indicator of too much sun exposure. If you have freckles, pay attention to their color, shape, and texture. If they begin to change or appear oddly shaped, contact a doctor as soon as possible for a biopsy. Lesions are often found in the skin before cancer is diagnosed. Yellowing of the skin and the enlargement of tiny blood vessels under the skin’s surface can also be indicators. Fortunately, skin cancer can easily be cured if found in time. Any changes in the skin’s color, appearance, the addition or change of freckles, or any other changes occurring after being in the sun should warrant a visit from a dermatologist for early testing and detection.
Facts About Melanin
Melanin is a natural substance in the human body that gives people their hair and skin color. Technically, it is another term for natural pigmentation. People with darker skin, hair, and eyes typically have higher amounts of melanin in the body than those with lower amounts, who usually have fair skin and light eyes and hair. It is a natural pigment that can be found in animals as well as humans, such as birds. Melanin determines feather colors for birds just as it determines skin color in humans. Typically the higher amount of melanin a person has, the lower their risk for sunburn. Melanin serves as a natural form of protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. It can also help to absorb the heat from the sun, making people with higher melanin levels more tolerant of the sun for longer periods of time. People with lower melanin counts tend to burn much faster and more severely. Those of European descent often have lower melanin levels and tend to burn much more easily.
Tips for Staying Safe
- Try to avoid getting sunburned if at all possible. Studies have shown that people who burn more often have a much higher risk of skin cancer. When in the sun use a UVSunSense™ wristband. The band will provide you with a simple sun-sensitive gauge through color change that alerts you when you need to reapply sunscreen and when to get out of the sun and its potential damaging effects.
- Stay away from tanning salons and tanning beds, as these devices only expose the skin to harmful ultraviolet rays much more closely, and at a higher rate of strength more directly into the skin.
- Always apply a sunscreen with an SPF sun protection of 15 or higher. This should be applied at least a half-hour before going into the sun, and then re-applied every few hours afterwards.
- Wear hats and other protective clothing while out in the bright sunlight for long periods of time.
- Try to stay in shady places, such as under umbrellas or trees if at all possible to avoid direct sun exposure.
- Be careful when spending time in the water, on sand, or even in the snow. All of these elements reflect the sun and increase your chances of getting burnt.
- Find out from the local weather channel what the current UV index is. Most places will let people know the threat and how severe it is each day, so they can be more prepared.
- Be sure to get enough vitamin D, as it has been known to help protect the skin. Make sure this is being absorbed properly and coming from natural sources, such as milk or from supplements.
- Find and use cosmetics, such as lotions, lip-glosses, and foundation that contain SPF in them. This will add protection to your skin all year long.
- Sunglasses that have UV protection should be worn to help keep the eyes safe from sun damage.
- Direct sun exposure during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. should be avoided if possible. Go out early or later on in the afternoon/early evening.
- Check your skin regularly and look for any changes in freckles or potential skin growths that could be pre-cancerous.
- Certain medications like specific antibiotics can increase your skin’s sun sensitivity. Check with your doctor about the medications you currently take to be sure.
- Children are much more susceptible to sunburn. Anyone experiencing blistering sunburns before the age of 18 has a much higher increase of skin cancer. Make sure kids play in the shade, apply sunscreen, and wear hats and other protective clothing.
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