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Home > Health & Wellness > Health Education > Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Published on April 24, 2014
Being outside in the sun has many health benefits, such as boosting vitamin D and promoting exercise, but your skin is at serious risk unless properly protected. Too much sun can cause age spots, coarse wrinkles, a leathery texture, and skin cancer — the most common type of cancer in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer. So, how do you reap the benefits of being outdoors without severely damaging your skin?
One of the most highly recommended forms of protection is a lotion or gel containing a sun protection factor (SPF). SPF 15 – 30 should be applied 30 minutes before going outside and should be reapplied every two hours and more often if you are sweating or swimming. Don’t forget your lips, tops of the ears, hairline, chest, nose, and hands. They are often over looked but very susceptible to damage.
Wearing a hat is an easy way to shade and protect your face. Sunglasses with UV protection will protect your eyes as well as the skin around them. Also, look for clothing and cosmetics with UV defense for additional help that requires minimal effort.
Between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., the sun’s UV rays are most powerful. These hours require diligent protection. And, don’t forget that UV rays can easily break through clouds, so your skin is affected even if you do not feel hot on cool, cloudy days.
Anyone’s skin is at risk for skin damage and cancer, but some are more vulnerable than others. Those with fair or freckled skin, light eyes, blonde or red hair, and moles are more susceptible. Other factors include a family history of skin cancer, and outdoor job, and certain drugs that increase risk of sunburn including tetracycline and diuretics.
If you have a mole or patch of skin that changes in pigment or size, it is very important to consult your family doctor because it could be a sign of cancer. Your family doctor can also refer you to a skin specialist for further assistance. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call (319) 369-4444 to get help in finding one.