Relax. Enjoy the sun without wrinkling and skin cancer worries.

You have worked hard all winter and it is finally time to take that summer getaway. Rest, relaxation, and recreation may be your goal; however, protecting your skin should be your top priority. Sun damage has a cumulative, perilous effect on your skin. According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. Learn how the sun affects your skin, how skin cancer develops, and what you can do to protect your skin while still having fun in the sun.

How does the sun affect your skin?
Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays penetrate your skin and change the cells on a molecular level. It causes your skin to sag and wrinkle prematurely with the effects exacerbated with repeated, unprotected contact to the sun. In addition to premature aging of the skin, sun damage also increases your risk of skin cancer. The three common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

How does skin cancer develop?
Cancer cells develop when DNA is damaged within the cell. Usually, the body is able to repair the damage; however, in the case of cancer cells, it is not repaired. These malignant cells are found in the outer layers of your skin, called the epidermis. In this layer there are basal cells, squamous cells, and melanocytes. Damaged DNA can be inherited, but in most cases, a personís DNA becomes damaged by exposure to something in the environment, such as harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Sun damage accounts for 90 percent of the symptoms of premature aging. Be proactive and take preventative measures! Contact your facial plastic surgeon for more information on prevention or treatment of sundamaged skin.

What can you do to prevent premature aging and skin cancer?

  • Avoid excessive exposure during midday sun, 10am-4pm, when the sunís rays are the strongest and most damaging.
  • Seek shade when you proceed outdoors.
  • Apply sunblock with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Reapply every two hours while outdoors and immediately following swimming or exercising.
  • Wear protective sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Keep your skin hydrated with a moisturizer.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a wide brim hat.
  • Replace old bottles of sunscreen each season; the chemicals decompose over time.
  • Examine your skin once a month. Look for any changes in moles and age spots, keeping in mind the following anagram, ABCDE: asymmetry, borders, color, diameter, and enlargement.


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