Spring break is just around the corner, and you need to make sure you’re thinking of your skin’s health as you have fun in the sun. Take steps to protect your skin and you’ll be grateful in the short and long term.
Sun damage is real year round, but this time of year is when sunburns happen most. After a long winter of short days, time indoors and layers of long sleeves, you might forget what sunlight looks like. Especially after this turbulent winter spent especially cooped up, you’re probably itching to get outside and in the sun for spring break. That’s great, but slow down! No matter the time of year, or whether you’re vacationing in a tropical paradise or at home, you’re going to need sunscreen. Protecting your skin from sun damage goes far beyond avoiding painful and unsightly burns. Sun damage can cause more long-term damage to your skin that can jeopardize your health, so pay close attention to how much sun you’re getting.
The first major impact of sun damage that most people notice is aged skin. Chronic sunbathers or indoor tanning addicts often note that their skin is aging much quicker than their peers. That’s because a tan is your skin’s visible reaction to damage. Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight penetrates the top layers of our skin and kills skin cells. When these skin cells die in big sections, your skin needs to work very hard to restore its health. After a sunburn or sun damage, melanocytes in the skin kick into high gear, which create melanin that gives skin its pigment. A tan is a visible indication that your skin has been damaged in a substantial way.
Skin that’s been damaged and has had to repair itself over and over again begins to show wear. It will form wrinkles, sun spots and other fine lines because it lacks the necessary proteins that it requires. Things like collagen and elastin are not produced as readily by unhealthy, frequently damaged skin. These two proteins, in addition to others like hyaluronic acid, give skin its elasticity and ability to retain moisture. Dryness and inelasticity both contribute greatly to the formation of dynamic wrinkles and fine lines all over the body. The simple solution for keeping your skin healthy and young? Don’t tan, and wear sunscreen when you’re out! To be clear: there is no such thing as too late for getting on the sunscreen bandwagon. Prevention, early or late, is so much better than doing nothing at all for your skin.
Skin cancer is not as scary as it sounds, if you’re prepared for it. Preventing skin cancer isn’t always possible, but if you take proactive steps to protect your skin from sun damage you can greatly reduce your odds of developing it. As the technology and education behind sunscreen and tanning improve, we will likely see lower skin cancer rates in the future. Right now, skin cancer is incredibly common, with 1 in 5 people getting it at least once in their lifetime. Skin cancer can show itself in different ways, but its primary cause is a life of sustained, frequent sun damage. As your skin must rebuild itself after being damaged by UV radiation, it runs the risk for developing a mutation. Skin cancer occurs when the skin cells mutate and begin to replicate at an accelerated pace. There are several kinds of skin cancer, but the most common forms are basal or squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Sunscreen use at all times is the best defense against skin cancer. Besides requiring surgery and sometimes radiation treatment, skin cancer can be deadly. This can all be avoided if you take the proper measures each time you’re out and about in the sun, so take care!
This spring, take a moment to include sunscreen and other sun-safe practices in your skincare regimen. Sun damage doesn’t have to age your skin and cause skin cancer, you can prevent it. Reach out to the sun damage experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates for more tips or to schedule a routine skin check.
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