With spring here and summer around the corner, most of us are ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Before you head outside, take the time to prepare your skin for sun exposure.
Did you know that thousands of Americans develop skin cancers each year? As many as 50% of fair skinned individuals may develop skin cancers at some point during their lifetime.Most cases are related to excess sun exposure. Skin cancers can be found anywhere on the body, but most commonly on the face. Skin cancer can disfigure the nose, face, eyelids, ears, lips, or cheeks. Skin cancer types include basal cell (slow growing), squamous cell (faster growing and can more readily spread), and melanoma (the pigmented type that is very dangerous). The likelihood of developing skin cancer is directly related to the amount of sun exposure, and the skin damage can be cumulative.
In addition to the risk of skin cancer, sun exposure can lead to disfiguring wrinkles. The sun’s light rays damage the DNA of your skin cells, and the damage can be progressive with each day and year of additional insult to our cells. DNA damage can cause the cells to develop into tumors or it can kill the cell’s ability to repair skin tissue, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and discoloration.
The first line of defense against excess sun exposure is through the use of a UVA/UVB sunscreens and a hat. If a person knows they are going to be exposed to a lot sun when planning to play golf, to garden or spending time at the beach… they might consider taking a hat, sunblock and clothing to cover up after an hour or so in the sun. Also, one should avoid the intense mid day sun exposure between 11am and 2PM.
For those who have already developed sun damage such as brown spots, rough patches, wrinkles,or crusted areas that wont heal or even bleed, you may want to see a doctor to have a check up. If a skin cancer is diagnosed, get it treated immediately. Small lesions are much easier to treat than those that have time to grow and spread.If you don’t have a skin cancer and are developing wrinkles or age spots, there are things that one can do to reverse the damage and improve the skin.
Incorporating medical grade skin exfoliation creams can help stimulate the skin to regenerate and replace damage skin cells with smother, healthier surface cells. Medical grade chemical peels or lasers may be needed if the damage is deeper or more severe.
Year round skin health plan:
- Prevention: UVA/UVB sunblock, hat, or long sleeves/pants
- Avoid the mid day sun
- Limit the time in the sun
- Treatment of non-cancerous changes like pigmented spots or wrinkles: medical grade skin exfoliation and hydration, chemical peels, laser
- Skin cancers: non-healing, ulcerated, bleeding or pigmented lesions should be evaluated by a doctor.