Health & Wellness: Protect Your Skin

Hit the beach, play tennis or soak in some rays. While Vitamin D is healthy, overexposing your skin without protection is not. Forget Miami Vice. Tan skin might look pretty, but if your skin’s health in the sunny season is crucial. Here’s some tips for safe sun exposure to prevent sunburn and premature aging.

The Problem: Without sunscreen, harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun begin their silent work prematurely aging your skin, creating wrinkles and spots or, at worst, contributing to skin cancer. UVB rays are the light that burns skin while UVA rays cause skin to age and wrinkle. The SPF number indicates a sunscreen’s UVB effectiveness, not its UVA protection.

Sunscreen IQ: For many people, protection from moderate sun exposure is achieved with an SPF of 15.  If you’ll be outdoors four hours or more, you should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 that contains sun-blocking agents such as zinc oxide and titanium that are the most effective protection against the  harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays.

More Is Not Better: While there are products that list SPF levels of 75 or 100, you will be paying maybe twice as much as you will for an SPF 50 product, and gaining perhaps only .1% more protection.  It just doesn’t make that much of a difference at that point.

How To Apply Sunscreen: Choose the right sunscreen. Remember to apply sunscreen generously every 40-80 minutes as indicated on the label. Adults should use one ounce per application or enough to fill a shot glass.

Enhance Skin Protection: Add a shady hat, sunglasses to protect your eyes (excess sun exposure can result in premature cataracts), protective clothing and an umbrella for extended time in the sun. Apply enough to achieve good coverage, and reapply if you swim or sweat.

Skin cancer is the one of the most common form of cancer in the U.S…but luckily it’s also one of the most preventable if you follow the Skin Cancer Foundation’s prevention guidelines.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 am & 4 pm when the sun is strongest.
  • Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun, since their skin is extremely vulnerable. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately.

To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a skin cancer, visit www.SkinCancer.org/selfexamination

See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Article by Nanette Wiser

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