Basking in the sun provides us with Vitamin D, which in arguably has many benefits; but how much sun is too much? Dermatologists warn of the dangers of the sun. Because of the scorching rays of the sun and a threat of skin cancer looming over us, it is difficult to find ways in order to safely enjoy those beautiful, sunny days. While there are many serious reasons to safely enjoy the sun, it is possible to do so and even fix sun damage to your skin.
What You Need To Know About The Sun
According to the American Cancer Society, there are three different types of UV rays. UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA is the weakest of the three types of radiation, with UVC being the strongest. Typically, the atmosphere destroys UVC rays, so a small percentage of UVC rays seep through the ozone. We should mostly be fearful of UVB and UVA rays, though.
The sun emits mostly UVA rays, but there are many ways to stay safe in the sun. However, there is more to be wary of than just the sun. UV rays are emitted from many man made lamps, as well, including:
- Tanning beds and booths contribute to a large quantity of sun damage, including the most detrimental of all sun damage, which is skin cancer.
While most tanning beds emit UVA rays, some do emit UVB, so everyone should be conscious of this when resorting to tanning beds and booths.
- Black-light lamps emit UV rays, as well, while this may be a small amount due to filters found in most bulbs.
- Many fiber optic and video projection lamps mimic sunlight, so they emit UV rays.
- Tools such as welding arcs and other various instruments in the workplace contain UV rays, as well.
What UV Rays Can Do
The effects of UV rays vary in severity, but none of them should be ignored. They include the following:
- Freckles: Small, flat light brown, or sometimes red, spots that appear on the skin due to excessive sun exposure.
Those with freckles are at a higher risk of developing precancerous skin conditions.
- Age Spots: Often mistaken as a sign of old age, these brown splotches on the skin are a direct result of sun exposure.
Actinic Keratosis: A precancerous condition consisting of lesions similar to that of the age spots, actinic keratosis is often visible on the scalp, face and hands. Actinic keratosis can be dangerous and is a direct result of excessive sun exposure.
- Suntan: While many people strive for the perfect tan, they may not realize that a suntan is an indication of sun damage. Our skin produces melanin to protect our bodies from UV rays. When we tan or burn, it is an indication of these cells dying. Without these cells, we have no protection from the sun.
- Sunburn: Caused directly by over exposure to UVB rays, sunburns can lead to skin cancer. In fact, those who experience blistering sunburns in their youth are more than twice as susceptible to develop skin cancer when they reach adulthood.
How to Stay Safe In The Sun
Even though there are many negative effects of too much sun exposure, there are plenty of ways to stay safe. Here are a few. Ask yourself the following questions when basking in the sun:
- What Time Of Day Is It? Typically the sun’s rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- What Time Of Year Is It? The sun’s rays are at their peak during the summer months.
- Where Are You? Areas of higher altitude will leave you more susceptible to the sun’s UV rays.
- Are You Near A Reflective Surface? UV rays repel against water, sand, snow or grass, so be aware of your surroundings.
If you find that you already suffer from sun damage, then here are some tips to reduce your already existing sun damage:
1. Exfoliate: Sun damage causes built up dead skin cells, so exfoliating can help remove those cells to create more even, smooth-looking skin.
Exfoliating treatments can vary from using a loofah to purchasing a scrub, or even the consultation of a home microdermabrasion kit.
However, if you are seeking this option, what you need to be aware of is that you should not sit in the sun after using any of these exfoliating options. Exfoliating leaves the skin sensitive, so it makes you more susceptible to damage from the sun; thus, be sure to stay indoors when exfoliating.
2. Bleach Brown Spots: Skin lighteners work well to help lessen the buildup of unwanted color, but another option is to bleach the skin. There are over-the-counter products that contain acids that can whiten or smooth the tone of the skin. While this option has the potential for side effects, they can be avoided by following the product instructions closely.
3. Hydrate: Sun damage dries skin out completely, so hydrating the body will help reverse the damage. This helps combat sun damage to the entire body, and it quite possibly one of the easier, cost efficient options.
While hydrating the body will not completely help heal the body of unwanted sun damage, when combined with the aid of a lightener or moisturizer, it will definitely prove effective.
4. Light-Emitting Diodes(LEDs): There are many electronic options when trying to reduce any unwanted facial issues, such as acne, wrinkles and sun damage, as well. LEDs are gaining in popularity, but it is important that you consult a reputable dermatologist to get professional treatment.
If the above-mentioned options just simply aren’t suitable for your skin, then there are products that you can purchase to help hide the damage done to your skin.
Skin lighteners are a practical means to do so, and brands such as illuminatural 6i offer products to help ease the sun damage that is visibly seen on your body.
The best way to protect your skin from sun damage is to avoid the sun at peak hours, use sunscreen, and wear protective clothing and hats, as well as sunglasses. The sun can make for a beautiful day; however, it can wreak havoc with your skin, so be careful. You may not see the damage for many years after it is too late to correct it.