Laser Skin Care Learning Center

Top Tips To Prevent Sun Damage To Your Skin

Posted by Dr. Ruth Shields on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 @ 03:06 PM

tips_to_prevent_sun_damageAccording to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sun damage is responsible for more than 90 percent of the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles, rough patches, skin sagging and skin discoloration. This damage, or photoaging, is caused by UV radiation, which gradually breaks down the connective tissues in the skin and alters the DNA of skin cells, significantly increasing skin cancer risk. So preventing sun damage to you skin is essential to protect your appearance, and more importantly, your long term health. Top tips to prevent UV skin damage include:

  • Sunscreen – Many of us underestimate the amount of UV exposure that occurs during everyday activities, such as a short walk on your lunch break or driving to and from work. Sun damage can occur with just a few minutes of unprotected exposure, so apply a quality sunscreen every day. It should be as much a part of your morning routine as brushing your teeth. Be sure to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. When you'll be spending several hours in the sun, be sure to reapply every two hours, more frequently if you'll be getting wet or sweating a great deal.

  • Cover Up – Keep as much of your skin as possible covered to avoid sun damage. A hat with a large  brim can shelter your face and neck, and sunglasses, preferably wrap-around ones, offer protection for your eyes. Clothing made of tightly-woven fabrics can help block UV rays from reaching your skin. Wear long pants or skirts and long-sleeved shirts for the best protection, and dark or bright colors are generally most efficient at shielding the skin.

  • Shade – Keep out of direct sunlight as much as possible when you're spending a day at the park or on the beach. If there aren't shade trees or pavilions on site, make sure you bring a beach umbrella to provide some sun protection.

  • Skip Indoor Tanning – While many people believe that tanning beds and sun lamps are safe, the fact is that they emit UV radiation that can cause photoaging in just the same way as natural sunlight. If the bronzed look is a must-have for you, spray-on tans or self-tanning creams can give you a natural looking glow without risk of sun damage.

  • Timing – When you're planning outdoor activities, try to avoid scheduling them during the hours when sunshine is most intense, between 10 am and 4 pm.

  • Check Your Meds – Some medications make skin more vulnerable to sun damage, a condition called photo-sensitivity. If you're taking daily medications, ask your pharmacist if any of them list increased photo-sensitivity as a side-effect. If so, you'll have to be especially vigilant in avoiding unprotected sun exposure. Even some over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements can be a problem, so be sure to check on those as well.

  • Check Your Skin – Having a health care professional do a thorough exam to check for skin changes once a year is a good idea, especially if you've had a lot of sun exposure in your lifetime or have a family history of skin cancer.

Getting in the habit of using these tips to protect against sun damage to your skin is important, especially if you consider the fact that according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 8,000 Americans die from melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, each year. Besides, keeping the UV rays away will also keep your skin looking young and vibrant for many years to come. Lower skin cancer risk and beautiful skin – what's not to like in that scenario?

 

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Tags: sun damage