Healthy Living – Ways to keep your skin safe in the sun

Healthy Living – Ways to keep your skin safe in the sun

God gave you just one skin and it must last you a lifetime. It is the largest organ of the body and it protects you from the external environment. Your skin deserves to be cared for and needs protection from the sun and it’s harmful rays.

Many believe that getting a base tan before going on a vacation to a warm sunny climate, like Florida, will protect them from getting a sunburn and prevent sun damage to their skin. This is a myth. “A tan is not protective. If you have a tan, you have injured your skin – you have sun damage,” according to Jeffery Peterson,MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Photo by Tomas Salas

In fact, a tan is actually a sign of skin damage and is your body’s way of trying to protect it’s skin from more harmful UV rays. This is not very effective because certain UV rays get through the tan and damage deep layers of your skin every time your skin is exposed to the sun. Even after the tan fades the damage remains below the skin’s surface, where the UV radiation has penetrated and begun to permanently alter your DNA. Each time you are in the sun and getting tan the effects of the UV radiation build and over time accumulate to increase your risk of getting skin cancer. It also makes your skin look old before it’s time, causing wrinkling, age spots, scaly patches, and uneven skin tone.

Indoor tanning is not safe either, even though claims are made that it is harmless and actually healthy. Indoor tanning devices all emit ultraviolet (UV) light. A tan develops as a response to that UV radiation exposure. It causes damage to the DNA that may lead to skin cancer. The more exposure that occurs the higher the risk of skin cancer on down the line.

UV radiation seems to cause all three kinds of common skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. There are three mechanisms in it’s inducing of skin cancer: First, UV light directly damages one’s DNA leading to mutations; second, it produces activated oxygen molecules that can damage DNA and other cellular structures; and third, it leads to localized immunosuppression that blocks one’s own natural anti-cancer defenses.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has recommended the SPF sunscreen products as an effective aid in the prevention of UVA and UVB sunburn and the premature aging of skin. Many a dermatologist (skin doctor) will tell you that if you are outdoors at all without sun protection on that you are risking looking old before your time with dried winkled skin and age spots. Not only that, but you are at risk for developing skin cancer including malignant melanoma, a deadly cancer whose incidence is increasing faster in the 20-35 age group than any other cancer. So be sure to protect yourself and keep your skin looking young and smooth by the daily use of sun protection products.

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