Understanding the Damaging Effects of the Sun

A golden tan honed by hours outdoors in the sun may look healthy, but it’s not.

The sun's heat dries out your skin, depleting it of natural lubricating oils. At the same time, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause burning, skin cancer, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, dark spots, and other signs of premature aging.

Tanning is the skin's reaction to UV light. When UV rays reach your skin, your skin responds by producing more melanin. Melanin is the pigment that causes tanning. Tanning does not prevent skin cancer. It’s your skin’s first defense against the sun. Melanin absorbs dangerous UV rays that can do severe skin damage. A sunburn develops when the amount of UV damage exceeds the protection that the skin's melanin provides.

Now that summer is here and hiking, swimming, and outdoor grilling beckon, it’s an ideal time to review the essentials of protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful effects.

Apply sunscreen generously 

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when outside, even on cloudy days. Apply to all skin not covered by clothing, including your feet, neck, ears, and the top of your head. Reapply approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating. 

Stay in the shade

Stay in the shade during the sun’s most potent hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, it’s time to find the shade.

Wear protective clothing

Keep covered during the prime sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Consider investing in sun-protective clothing. Fabric must have a UPF of 30 to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation

Check your skin regularly

Examine your skin from head to toe regularly. If you notice any changes in your skin, see us right away. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. We also recommend that you visit us once a year, or more often if you are at an increased risk for skin cancer, for full-body, professional skin screening.

Treating sun damage

Be careful this summer. But if you acquire damage, nonetheless, we can help. We offer many treatments to reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and other signs of sun damage. Treatments include:

To learn more about protecting your skin or remedy it from sun damage, call Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy at 540-212-7081, or book an appointment online.

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