Shield Skin From The Effects of Ultraviolet Rays

Take precautions to protect your skin from the effects of the sun’s uv rays.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin, and this is a contributing factor in the development of skin cancer. It also causes skin to age prematurely (wrinkles and age spots), and may lead to other skin problems. Reduce your risk of sun damage by protecting yourself from these harmful rays.

It is never too late to develop healthy habits that prevent skin damage, but getting an early start has its advantages. Children have more sensitive skin than adults and need protection from ultraviolet rays because sun damage will accumulate over time and can cause problems later in life. You can prevent further sun damage and heal superficial sun damage, but underlying previous sun damage is irreversible. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from sun damage, and help children develop the same good habits.

An important step in protecting your skin is limiting the exposure of your skin to the sun. Reduce the amount of time you spend outside during the sun’s brightest hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When you do spend time outdoors, wearing tightly woven clothing will provide more protection than light clothing with a large weave. Also keep in mind that when clothing becomes wet, it does not reflect ultraviolet rays as well. Although hats with wide brims shade your face and neck, sunglasses protect your eyes, and beach umbrellas and other forms of shade can provide some protection, ultraviolet rays can still reflect off of other surfaces and reach your skin. You can still get a sunburn in cloudy or foggy weather year-round. The reflective and penetrative nature of ultraviolet rays makes sunscreen and sunblock necessary.

Sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet rays and preventing them from penetrating your skin. A sunscreen that absorbs both types of ultraviolet rays, ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) will be the most effective. Sunblock reflects ultraviolet rays and prevents any ultraviolet light from damaging the skin. Sunblock should be applied on areas that are at a high risk of sunburn, like the nose and lips. No sunscreen or sunblock provides complete protection, but they come with a variety of sun protection factors (SPFs), with the highest factors providing the maximum protection. An SPF 15 or higher is recommended for everyone. People who have fair skin, light eye and hair colors, and/or tend to burn easily should select even higher SPFs. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas of skin at least twenty minutes before sun exposure, and to the lips at least forty-five minutes before exposure. Sunscreen should be re-applied every few hours and immediately after swimming. Sunscreens are available in a variety of forms, such as moisturizers, sprays, and lip balms that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.

A tan is actually the skins protective reaction to ultraviolet rays, and not a healthy glow. It is an indication of sun damage to the skin, and will become wrinkled, saggy, and leathery over time. Although a tan is a natural protective reaction to the sun, it does not prevent further sun damage anywhere near the necessary extent. The skin damage caused by getting a tan outweighs the skin damage prevented by having a tan. Sunbathing and tanning beds can both cause skin damage. If you desire the darkened skin tone that results from tanning, self-tanning lotions and cosmetic bronzers are the safest options.

Sun damage to skin will have negative effects on a person’s appearance and health, but this damage is preventable. If you limit your exposure to direct sunlight, wear sunscreen and sunblock, and do not sunbathe or use tanning beds to tan, youthful healthy skin can be yours for a long time to come.

By: Sarah McGuire

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