The importance of wearing sunscreen


Summer weather is upon us, which means people will be spending more time outdoors. It’s the time of year that people love to swim, go to the beach or take advantage of the warm temperatures to get their outdoor projects completed.

Summer certainly isn’t the only time of year that you’re at risk for the damages of sun exposure but it is the time that you’re most likely to be over-exposed.

Although most of us are guilty of forgetting, it is important to remember that while you may adore the outdoors, going to the beach and how you look with a tan, there are serious consequences with too much exposure to the sun. Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer, which includes that of melanoma.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancers, and is the leading cause of death from skin disease. Melanoma can spread very rapidly. Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer but its rate is increasing steadily and rapidly.

The development of melanoma is related to sun exposure or ultraviolet radiation, particularly among people with fair skin, blue or green eyes, and red or blond hair. The risk of developing melanoma increases with age. However, the disease also frequently affects young, otherwise healthy people.

You may be at a greater risk to develop melanoma if you live in sunny climates or higher altitudes, if you spend long hours exposed to high levels of sunlight being outdoors, if you had one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or the use of tanning beds.

Unprotected sun exposure is dangerous as it puts off different types of rays, such as UVA and UVB.

UVA rays are present throughout the daytime and are the largest cause of premature aging of the skin. UVA rays are also responsible for photosensitivity reactions and also contribute to skin cancer.

UVB rays are most intense from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and are most responsible for sunburn and skin cancer development.

You can limit your dangerous exposure and help prevent burns and long-term damage by covering exposed areas when possible by wearing hats and using sunscreen.

Sunscreen should be applied approximately 30 minutes before being in the sun so that it can be absorbed by the skin and less likely to wash off when you perspire. It is important to remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or strenuous exercise. Apply sunscreen often throughout the day if you work outdoors, and wear hats and protective clothing.

You should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. If you plan to be swimming or sweating you will want to choose a sunscreen that is water-proof. There are even sunscreens that are made specifically for the face. And no matter if your choice of sunscreen is $2.oo or $20.00, it doesn’t not mean that one is more effective than the other. Just be sure to check the expiration date because some of the ingredients may weaken over a period of time.

Some of the information in this article was retrieved from skincancer.org.

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