The first holiday of the summer is just around the corner. Surely there’s no coincidence that this month is also skin cancer awareness month. Longer days and warmer temperatures are the perfect excuse to get your sun on, but before you do, it’s important to understand how to safely enjoy the sun while protecting the body’s largest organ.
First Line of Defense
The skin protects our internal organs and it’s our job to protect our skin from harmful sunburns. Damage from the sun is also the number one cause of visible changes in the skin such as wrinkles and brown spots. Burns occur when radiation from the sun’s UVB (burning) rays penetrate the skin, causing changes to the DNA of the skin cells. If the cells mutation multiples as the result of too many and/or too frequent burns, the mutated cells could become a tumor. This happens more often than you think with one in five individuals developing skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This risk doubles if you have five or more sunburns throughout life.
When it comes to creating a skin defense, consistency is key. This is because the sun’s rays have the potential to burn and cause damage 365 days of year whether it’s cloudy or sunny. Defense begins with the daily application of SPF 30 or higher. The regular use of sunscreen decreases the risk of melanoma. Densely woven clothing in dark or bright colors offers an additional layer of protection, but the rays of the sun can also penetrate clothing. For days when only swimsuits or shorts are required, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest. A good rule to follow is if your shadow is shorter than you are, it’s a good time to stay out of the sun.
Sun Protection 101
Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you may prefer a mineral sunscreen over a synthetic one. Mineral sunscreens reflect the UVA rays away from skin and are typically more comfortable for individuals with sensitive skin. Synthetic sunscreens are less likely to have the white cast of mineral sunscreens and they change UVA rays into a harmless heat shield.
- Apply at least ¼ tsp of sunscreen to the face and another ¼ tsp to the neck
- Use a full ounce (the size of a shot glass) to the whole body
- Reapply at least every two hours especially when sweating or after swimming
- Avoid digging feet into the sand, which can rub off sunscreen
- Keep newborns and small children out of the sun
- Wear skin protective clothing, hats and sunglasses
When in doubt about the best ways to protect your skin, visit www.avoidtheburn.com and download our EcoSport UV app at the ITunes APP store or through Google Play. To learn more about Sunflower Dermatology’s approach to Better Skin for a Better Life, talk to the dermatologic experts at Sunflower Dermatology and Medical Day Spa in Riverside, Missouri. They offer medical dermatology, surgical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology procedures and photodynamic. Protect the largest organ in your body and improve the long-term appearance and health of your skin with care from Sunflower Dermatology & Medical Day Spa.