Effects of the Sun on Our Skin

Health & Beauty

6

May brings to mind, certainly for West Texans, summer with its long hot days of intense heat and many hours a day of unfiltered sunlight. Therefore, let me remind you of the need to protect your skin from the havoc unrestricted exposure to the sun can cause.

Because we live in a Sunbelt state, we will all be at risk for sun damage no matter how careful we are.

I realize that many of us have grown up spending a great deal of time outdoors and have enjoyed the sun. Those beautiful tans we worked hard to acquire as teenagers and into our early twenties looked so good and healthy. Sadly, when we reach our mid-forties, the picture changes. Bodies that have been over-exposed to the sun are prime candidates for skin cancer, including the deadly melanoma.  Lines and wrinkles began to form. Our skins lose their elasticity and become pigmented and blotchy. In later years they will appear leathery and dried. Although we all will age and have skin changes over time, much of what I am describing is primarily the result of overdoses of the sun.

Because we live in a Sunbelt state, we will all be at risk for sun damage no matter how careful we are. However, there are some basic precautions we can take protect our skins. The first line of defense is to avoid large, unprotected blocks of time in the sun. Whenever you have a choice, choose the shade. Cross the street, if necessary, so you can walk in the shade. Early mornings before 10:00 and late afternoons after 4:00 are the best times to be outdoors. Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Apply it liberally to all areas of your body that will be exposed and reapply every two hours or so if you are in the water or perspiring.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat to help protect your face and your eyes. The increase in cataracts is closely related to sun exposure; therefore, dark glasses are also a valuable protection for our eyes. Wear cool but protective clothing whenever possible. Darker colors block the UVA rays better than do shades of white or pastels.

One final word, we are into summer so enjoy our sun-filled days with caution.

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