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Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

By: Rivka Kulik

Most of us love the sun, its brightness, the happy sunshine it brings, and the good mood it puts us in. But it comes with dangers too. The sun emits ultraviolet rays, which cause electromagnetic radiation, making overexposure dangerous. Having skin exposed to too much sun raises the possibility of various skin conditions and diseases, including melanoma - skin cancer.

Tanning may make you feel good and look great, but beware of getting sunburned. Sunburns may hurt, but they are not the only or most dangerous effect of the sun. Aside from the increased risk for skin cancers, there is the likelihood of dark spots, weathered skin, and wrinkles. Photo-ageing is the term used for when the sun damages skin prematurely, possibly dangerously aging the skin. Aside from wrinkles, it causes creases, spider veins, spots, and loss of skin tone.

Spotting Melanoma

Melanoma is more likely to occur in adults older than 65. Skin lesions and brown spots are normal for aging skin, making it harder to know when a suspicious spot might be cancerous. Check your skin, scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs. Use the ABCDE method to look for signs of melanoma:

A-asymmetry: Is each half of the mole or mark different?

B-border: Are the edges uneven?

C-color: Are there a number of colors such as black, brown, and tan?

D-diameter: Is the lesion growing larger than ¼ inch?

E- evaluation: Is it changing in size, shape, or color?

If the mole being looked at has a yes to any of these questions, have it checked out by a competent dermatologist.

Proactive Sun Protection

Wear a hat, one with a brim all around as you want to protect your ears and the nape of your neck. A sun visor does not suffice since you want to protect your scalp, too. A straw hat may be comfortable, but it has small holes that allow sunlight to stream through. Pick a hat that allows no sun through.

Long pants or sleeves may be hard to wear, but they will protect you. Try long and loose. If you can see skin through the clothes, the sun can reach it. Dense fabric blocks out UV rays. Colors matter, too. Some colors will attract the sun more than others. Wear light, white, or vivid colors. Use UV repellent detergent.

Apply sunscreen, and then reapply as necessary. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 or even 30 for lighter skin. You still need to use sunscreen even if going out for a short time or distance. You can find makeup that incorporates SPF sunscreen in its formula to better protect your face and lips.

Wear sunglasses. Eyes, too, can be hurt by the UV rays.

When sitting outdoors, find an awning, umbrella, or some shade. However, don’t think shade or clouds completely block out the sun. Make sure, even in shaded areas or on cloudy days, to use sunscreen.

Arrange Your Schedule

The sun's rays are strongest from 10 am to 3 pm, so plan your day accordingly. Do errands and outside exercise early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you are out during those hours, limit your time out. Be mindful when planning for water activities as the water reflects the sun and you end up with double exposure.

Eat Your Way to Sun Protection

Certain foods allow the skin to regenerate quicker and mitigate sun damage to the skin. Guava, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, green tea, strawberries, oatmeal, and watermelon are just some of the delicious dietary foods that boost skin resiliency. Wholesome food, Omega Oils, and raw fruits and vegetables can do much to enhance the skin’s ability to rejuvenate and heal from sun damage.

For more information see the resources below.


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