Our Love Hate Relationship With The Sun
This giant star keeps us alive in more ways than one. We need the sun for Vitamin D, which is necessary for the health of our immune system. Vitamin D is also necessary for helping us process other essential nutrients like calcium, which keeps our bones strong. The sun sets our internal clock – the rhythm of our daily life – and boosts serotonin (the happy hormone); In small doses, the sun can even reduce the symptoms of skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. In a nutshell, the sun keeps us healthy and happy, but too much of it can cause serious damage, even cancer. Proactive care will help you enjoy more time in the sun without causing damage. In addition to wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes, and coverups for added protection, we recommend incorporating SPF into your daily skincare routine
The big one: skin cancer
According to Stanford Healthcare, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes, with basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma being most common. Melanoma reaches beyond the dermis to the subcutaneous tissue allowing cancer to spread to other areas of the body; this is the deadliest form of skin cancer accounting for 80 percent of skin cancer deaths.
The ABCDE Rule
When doing a self-exam for skin cancer, PreventCancer.org recommends using this acronym to detect irregularities: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color that is not uniform, Diameter greater than 6 mm, and Evolving size, shape or color. Please note, while self-checks can help with preventing cancer, it is always best to have a licensed doctor examine your skin.
TWO: premature aging
Sun exposure breaks down the collagen and elastin in our skin, and since we don’t produce as much collagen as we age, this combination can cause premature aging. While we can’t control chronological aging, we can control factors that would exacerbate signs of aging. Spider veins, loss of “bounce”, wrinkles, and dark spots are examples of premature aging.
Photoaging is premature aging caused by repeated exposure to UV radiation from the sun or other sources like tanning beds. The areas of your body with the highest risk of photo aging are those that are not often exposed including the face, neck, chest and hands. Protect these areas at all times – not just when you’re sun bathing – with SPF, wide brimmed hats, and coverings.
For some people, the sun causes an uneven increase in melanin production such as dark spots or hyperpigmentation. Freckles are genetic, but can get darker or increase in quantity with frequent sun exposure. Dark spots are another form of discoloration caused by repeated exposure to the sun.
The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical scale ranging from Type I to Type VI, which helps estimate one’s response to UV light based on their skin color. According to this scale, the lighter your skin is, the higher risk you are to skin cancer caused by UV rays. Someone with fair skin and freckles who easily burns would be a Type I, while someone with dark brown skin who never burns would be a Type VI. Skin treatments that use light or laser therapy can be influenced by where your skin falls on this scale since someone closer to a Type I would be more sensitive to the treatment.
Increased sun exposure and frequent sunburns can be detrimental to your skin. Not only can you experience scarring from blisters and pealing, but if you develop large spots or cancerous moles, you could be left with scars from removal. The best thing you can do for your skin, regardless of whether you’re prone to burning, is wear broad-spectrum SPF every day. Wide brimmed hats, sun shirts, scarfs or bandanas are other helpful items to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.