Keeping Your Skin Healthy in the Texan Sun
It’s kind of impossible to avoid the sun in Texas, especially during the summer months. Most of us are fairly aware of the damage the sun can do to our skin and the illnesses it can cause. However, even the best of us can become a little complacent or lazy and forget to follow all the necessary steps to keep skin healthy in the Texan sun. Here’s a refresher course in what you should be doing!
Why is the Sun So Dangerous?
The sun emits ultraviolet rays which cause tanning as well as burning, cancer and other forms of skin damage. These rays are what make the sun so dangerous to humans. Ultraviolet rays are present all year round and not just during the summer months when the sun is at its strongest. This is why sun protection should be worn all year long. There are different types of ultraviolet rays with varying degrees of intensity. Some are present throughout the year though they are generally at their strongest during the summer.
Does Any Good Come From The Sun?
Some good does come from the sun. People need the sun in order to generate vitamin D which is necessary for good health. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to bone disease, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, certain cancers and other diseases. Depending on your skin color, just 10 to 30 minutes of direct sun exposure to your skin can boost your vitamin D levels.
What Harm Does the Sun Do to Our Skin?
Skin cancer is the most obvious form of skin damage caused by the sun. It is also the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Each year, about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed. 73,000 cases of the more serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, are also be diagnosed. Skin cancer is directly linked to too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. These cancers generally develop on the part of the bodies that are frequently exposed to the sun such as hands, the face, ear and the neck.
The sun also causes other forms of skin damage, some of which can be quite serious. The sun damages the skin’s immune function and the sun also destroys collagen and elastic tissues in the skin. This can lead to:
- Premature ageing
- Uneven or mottled skin pigmentation
- Sagging skin
- Reddening of the skin caused by dilated blood vessels
These forms of skin damage will usually appear after years of unprotected sun exposure. Sunburn is a more immediate form of skin damage which can appear after only a short period of time in the sun. Sunburn is a common occurrence – try as we may some of us just can’t avoid it – but it can be a precursor for more serious forms of skin damage caused by the sun.
Eyes can also be damaged by too much unprotected exposure to the sun. Cancer can form on the eyelids or in the eye itself. The sun can also cause cataracts, macular degeneration (eyesight that becomes weaker over time) and sunburn on the cornea.
Are All Skin Types Vulnerable?
All Texans needs to worry about keeping skin healthy in the sun. People of any skin color can be affected by skin cancer and other forms of sun-caused skin damage. However, people with pale or light skin are more vulnerable than people with darker skin. Freckled people and people with blue or green eyes and blonde, red or light brown hair should be most vigilant when in the sun.
Skin color is not the only risk factor. People with impaired immune systems or a person who had an organ transplant are also at high risk for skin damage caused by the sun. Genetics and family history also play a role.
How to Stay Safe!
There are some very simple steps you can take all year long to keep your skin healthy in the sun:
- Apply sunblock liberally and reapply throughout the day. Factor 30 is recommended for children and people with pale or fair skin. Remember to cover everywhere: eyelids, ears, nose, hands and feet if you are barefoot.
- Wear a lip balm that contains SPF (sun protection factor).
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
- Wear a light colored wide brimmed or peaked hat.
- Wear light colored clothes. Dark clothes attract more sun than light clothes.
- Carry a parasol or try to stay in shaded areas.
- If you do get burned, apply aloe vera and a cool damp cloth to affected areas. Don’t burst any blisters that may form.
- Try to stay put of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun is at its strongest.
- Keep an eye on freckles or moles. If a mole starts to bleed, itch, ooze or change shape consult a doctor immediately as this can be a symptom of skin cancer.
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.