Today is a gorgeous day in Northeast Pennsylvania. Temps are supposed to reach into the mid-60′s and I will finally be able to leave the house without a jacket. It is only 11 days until Spring and the ultraviolet rays from the sun are getting stronger. I know several people who have had a Melanoma and Melanoma Cancer. When caught early, it can be taken care of; however, I did have a favorite family member pass away when I was 6 years old from Melanoma Cancer. My aunt was only in her early 20′s when she died. So this is not something that can happen at an older age–but at any time in life.
So let’s talk about what we can do to protect our skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
First, what are UVA and UVB rays and where and how do they affect us?
Can pass through window glass.
Is not affected by a change in altitude or weather.
Is present all day and every day of the year.
Penetrates deep into skin layers.
Is 5% of the sun’s rays.
Is 20 times more abundant than UVB rays.
Affects long-term skin damage.
Cannot pass through window glass.
Helps the body with normal vitamin D production.
Varies with the season.
It is more intense in the summer than in the winter.
Varies with weather conditions.
Is more intense at midday than in the morning or late afternoon.
Is more intense at high altitudes and near the equator.
Is protected against by the SPF in sunscreens.
Is related to more than 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer.
SPF (sunscreen protection factor) is your key to protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays. The SPF # is what predicts how long your skin can be in the sun with a low risk of burning or damaging your skin. SPF 30 is best, while the higher SPF only provide minimally more protection. While water resistant sunscreens help maintain sunscreen on your skin through perspiring and water activity, it is only for a few hours and it is best to reapply sunscreen every two hours regardless. Should you get a sunburn, you will feel the effects within 2-6 hours of the burn. In more severe cases, sun poisoning can occur. I have had sun poisioning in the past, and it is not fun!
While we’re discussing using sunscreen in the spring and summer months, it is incredibly important to wear it year round. UVA and UVB rays are ever-present regardless of season. The intensity may vary, but you are still at risk for sun damage to your skin. Especially as you age, dark spots will begin to emerge showing sun damage from years ago. I can certainly see the age spots on my face, but it is even more disturbing when I have my skin looked at under UV light when getting a facial and see just how extensive the damage is.
Check out our post on 3 Sunscreens for Summer, that include our favorites to sun protection. How do you protect your skin from the sun year round?