Risks of Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer
The sun on our skin feels good and provides us with a healthy dose of vitamin D. That sounds like a good thing, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that despite how much we love getting outside to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, the exposure to the sun’s rays, over time, are harmful, including increasing your risk for developing skin cancer.
When you’re young, you typically don’t think about the long-term effect of sun exposure. As we age, we assume that many of the skin changes we see are all a natural part of the aging process. However, regular exposure causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our face later in life. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastins. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and loses its elasticity. While sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it will definitely show later in life.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
Dr. Jeffrey Sterling, MD, from the international healthcare consulting firm, Sterling Initiatives, offers this important advice: it’s never too early or too late to protect your skin. While nothing can undo sun damage that has already happened, the skin can somewhat repair itself with consistent sun protection.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater 20 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours or more if you are sweating or swimming.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck, and select clothing, swimwear, and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Avoid direct sun exposure during peak UV radiation hours – between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
- Perform skin self-exams regularly to familiarize yourself with moles and marks, and to notice and monitor any changes.