Skin cancer is an illness that can be mild or fatal. Sadly, it’s easy to avoid. There is a myth in popular culture that tanned skin is healthy skin, but this is inaccurate. A heavily tanned person may be healthier because they spend time working under the sun, but tanning for the sake of tanning can be dangerous.

Wear Sunscreen

Make sure that sunscreen is part of your daily routine. If you wear a daily moisturizer on your face, get something with a high SPF and protect your skin on multiple levels. One of the biggest challenges, as we age, is wrinkling, and UV rays produce sun damage. If are trying to avoid wrinkles with a moisturizer, sunscreen protection will make your task easier.

Sunscreen can also be found in clothing. While light cotton offers little protection, a dark fabric with a high nylon content can give you greater protection.

Stretch fabrics are inherently sun protective, but the more they stretch, the less coverage they provide. If you can’t see shelter from the sun in the middle of the day, consider layering. Start with nylon next to the skin, then top it with a wet cotton shirt to provide cooling as the moisture evaporates. There are also many man-made cooling products made with nylon that can keep you covered and cool; just add water to these collars and head coverings to lower your body temperature.

Avoid Burning

UV rays come with different levels of damage. UVB rays cause the visible redness or burn that we associate with skin cancer, but UVA rays penetrate further into the skin and cause damage at a deeper level. If you’re burned, you’ve gotten too much of both types of UV ray.

Sunburns don’t always show up right away. Many people who are most prone to burning actually don’t see any redness when they’re out in the sun, but later in the day their skin will start to pink up, get sensitive, and appear burned. The number of times you burn will have an impact on your chance of developing skin cancer. Additionally, five severe burns can actually double the risk that you will develop melanoma. If you’re going to be out,

  • apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • wear a hat
  • wear loose, nylon clothing with a tight weave
  • get under an umbrella or other form of shade

Many people who get the worst burns actually suffer them in the water. Watersports, including swimming, tubing, and skiing, actually increase the risk of a bad burn because you’re unaware of the damage as it occurs. You’re cooler, so you don’t realize you’re burning. The water is reflecting light, so skin that usually doesn’t get sunlight is getting sunlight. You’re mostly uncovered, so airflow is reducing any awareness of overheating. Finally, it’s hard to wear a hat while you’re swimming.

Be ready to test drive some waterproof sunscreens until you find one that actually lasts the day. Try to find a spot where you can get under shade when the sun is almost directly overhead. Finally, take breaks to check your skin, and if you’re pink, stay inside.

Watch Your Medications

There are many medications that can protect your health long-term but make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Temporary products, including some antibiotics, can cause a rash or hives if you are exposed to too much sun. There are other maintenance medications, such as antidepressants, that can make you photosensitive long-term.

Discuss your routine and activities with your physician to determine the best way to avoid burning. A sun rash is highly uncomfortable, and the medications that can treat the irritation and pain of such a rash can actually cause even greater sensitivity. Experts in the field of dermatology, from physicians to professionals in Dermatology Medical Billing, highly recommend additional sun protection planning to avoid additional damage.

People used to believe that once you got your first good burn of the summer, you would tan on top of it. This is not the case. A series of childhood sunburns can lead to a lifetime of skin ailments and health worries. Start with sunscreen, wear protective gear, and check with your doctor about any new medications.

About the author

Samantha Higgins

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