Protect your Skin

It is important when creating a healthier life to take precautions both inside and out. Exercise and eating healthy are essential but don’t forget to protect your largest organ, your skin. According to The Mayo Clinic, skin cancer is the largest of the cancers. Sun is a major threat that people should take more seriously. Most people are concerned about sunburn which is an immediate reaction to the sun, however, sun damage should also be a concern. Sun damage is what happens over our lifetime. Repeated sun damage causes wrinkles, cracked skin and skin discoloration. Living a healthy life, involves focusing on all aspects of your body.

Today, there are so many sunscreens out there claiming different things it’s hard to know what to actually look for. For starters, let’s define what SPF means. SPF means sun protection factor. This is what protects you from UVB rays, which are the burning rays. When looking for a sunscreen, look for something that says broad spectrum or full spectrum protection. These will help protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the ones that prematurely age your skin, causes wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays is what burns your skin. Both could be cancer causing which is why full spectrum protection is essential. When it comes to claims to reduce the risk of skin cancer only those that are broad spectrum with an SPF of 15 or higher can say that. Also, sunscreens cannot be advertised as waterproof or sweat proof. It can be labeled as water resistant if it passes a water resistant test. Even those, can only be labeled as water resistant up to a 40-80 min timeframe. Since perspiration and getting wet can make the sunscreen less effective it is important to reapply every 2 hrs and if you are in water reapply more frequently. For those who will be outdoors for more than 30 mins, apply a sunscreen of at least 20-30 SPF. Do not skimp. Apply a generous amount to your body. Women should apply a layer of sunscreen under their make-up. Don’t let the weather fool you. Just because it seems overcast doesn’t mean ultraviolet radiation from the sun isn’t causing skin damage.

So who needs sunscreen? Everyone. No matter your skin tone you should wear some sort of sunscreen to prevent skin damage, not just to prevent sun burn. If you don’t burn easily you can use a lower SPF such as 30 SPF. If you have had cancer or are pre-cancerous then you should wear at least 45 SPF. Wear sunscreen daily and avoid the sun during prime hours, 10am-3pm for best protection. Sunscreen is important for everyone, including babies. You should start using sunscreen on children who are 6 months or older. Starting sunscreen on children can help reduce the risk of cancer later on in life. According to The Mayo Clinic, a recent study showed a 72% reduction in skin cancer when children wore sunscreen from infancy to 18 years old. Protecting against sun damage is not something that only people who burn should do, it’s for everyone.

Summer is a great time to be outdoors. After the winters we have been having everyone should be outside as often as possible. However, don’t go out unprotected. Getting a little bit of color now can mean a lot of damage later on in life. If there is anything you can do to protect against cancer you should do it. Your skin is your first defense system, treat it with care.

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