• How to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

How to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

While the sun has many positive effects on the human body, it can also cause significant amounts of damage to your skin, especially if it’s not protected properly. This includes both sunburns and other damage that you can’t actually see.

How to Protect Skin from Sun Damage

What Is Sun Damage?

But what is sun damage, exactly? Without protection, your skin is subjected to developing considerable unwanted side effects. Too much exposure to the sun can lead to dryness, brown spots, loose skin, spider veins and a blotchy or ruddy complexion. In the worst cases, it can even cause skin cancer. The damage your skin incurs will build up over time, resulting in these undesirable changes in your skin, which can make you appear years older than you would naturally.

How Does the Sun Cause Damage?

Did you know that it’s not actually the sunlight that you see that damages your skin? The sun also makes light that the human eye can’t detect called ultraviolet light, or UV light for short. There are two types of UV rays that you should be aware of; UVB and UVA. While both types cause damage to your skin, they do so in slightly different ways. UVB rays cause more sunburns, whereas UVA affects the skin at a deeper level and are typically the cause behind early signs of aging. If you get too much sun and exposure to UV light, your skin will begin to have difficulties repairing itself, signifying sun damage.

Tips to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Wear Sunscreen Daily

Wearing sunscreen can protect your skin against harmful UV rays. It’s recommended that you wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 daily, even if you’re not outside or it’s cloudy out. In fact, 80 percent of UV radiation permeates clouds. Similarly, if you spend your day inside, maybe working in an office next to a window, it’s still incredibly important to wear sunscreen. UVA rays can penetrate glass, damaging your skin further.

Be sure to apply your sunscreen thick enough and repeatedly throughout the day as it wears off. Only applying a thin layer of sunscreen will reduce its effectiveness by as much as 50 percent!

Cover Up

In addition to wearing sunscreen, you should take care to cover up when you’re out in the sun. Hats and clothing that are made of dark, tightly woven materials can actually absorb ultraviolet light much more effectively than cotton fabrics in lighter shades.

While people with lighter skin have an increased risk of incurring sun damage, darker-skinned people can also be affected. No matter your skin tone, covering up as a preventative measure will help to lessen the effects of the sun on your skin.

Avoid Sunbathing

After a long few months of winter, you are probably desperate to get out into the sunshine and shed that pallor for a nice summery tan. However, there is actually no such thing as a healthy tan. Any kind of added pigmentation can damage your skin. And while sunbathing isn’t recommended for anyone, it is especially bad for people with light skin. Some light-skinned people simply can’t tan and instead they burn, damaging their skin even more.

If you really, really want to sunbathe, there are some measures you can take to make it safer for your skin. Wear sunscreen and take it slowly. Let your skin gradually build up melanin in order to provide at least some protection. Also avoid using tanning oils, which will only enhance the effect of UV rays and increase your risk of sunburn.

Avoid Tanning Beds

In addition to avoiding sunbathing, it is also recommended you avoid tanning beds. Some tanning companies claim that their machines only produce UVA radiation, which we now know are different from UVB rays that burn. But we also know that UVA rays aren’t safe either. They actually damage the skin at a much deeper level than UVB rays do so that over time, your skin will appear dry and wrinkled. It will also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Be Cautious of Photosensitivity

Photosensitivity is a severe sensitivity to the sun as well as other light sources that produce UV rays. People who are photosensitive are at risk of developing harsh sunburns and rashes even after only a limited amount of exposure to the sun.

Photosensitivity can either develop naturally or due to certain substances. For example, some drugs like diuretics and tetracycline have side effects that make your skin extra sensitive to the sun’s rays. Some herbal medicines, such as St. John’s Wort, does the same thing. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of photosensitivity if you are taking any medications.

Limit Your Time in Direct Sunlight

The easiest, and by far the best way to avoid sun damage is to limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight. The sun’s rays are the most intense and able to do the most damage between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It’s best to try and remain indoors during this time. However, if you have to be outside, make sure you cover up and wear a strong sunscreen.

McLean Clinic can help those who suffer from sun-damaged skin. For information on what procedures are right for you, contact us today!

July 10, 2019
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