Summer. That wonderful time of year when there are no pencils, no books, and no more teacher’s dirty looks. There is such beautiful weather that comes out to play and we tend to enjoy it through barbecues, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, and more. However, where there is summer, there is prolonged time outdoors under the sun, and skin protection is often overlooked.
Skin protection is a very important part of health and wellness, but typically neglected. How many of us neglect our skin in the summer? I know I sometimes do. Sure, we take care of our skin every other part of the year with moisturizers and exfoliation, but when the sun comes out, and the shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits come on, sunscreen rarely touches our skin. ‘Why’, you may ask. Because we want to be tan. Tan, tan, tan. Having golden, bronzed skin is a sign of healthy skin, right? Who wants to be pale? Not me! I look forward to summer all year because I get to lay out and get a nice new hue.
Our skin health should never be pushed aside for a tan, though. There are serious risks and dangers that can come from long-term sun exposure. The most obvious of these is skin cancer.
There are 3 types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Skin cancer is usually caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays that are emitted from the sun. There are 3 types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA is the most common type of emission and it can penetrate an individual’s layers of skin and damage connective tissue, which increases risk of skin cancer. UVB is less common because some of it is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer; it does help produce vitamin D in the body, but too much can still cause skin damage. UVC is entirely absorbed by the ozone layer.
It is important to protect your skin and here are some ways to do it:
- Wear sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher year round, even on cloudy or hazy days.
- Stay in the shade.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and wear a hat, especially one that covers your ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Avoid tanning beds! They are not worth the potential risks and skin damage.
If you do spend time outdoors, make sure to check your skin periodically using the ABCDE guide:
Definitely be sure to see your dermatologist at least once a year, or if you suspect skin damage. Summer is a wonderful time of year, but make sure that you first focus on skin protection so that you will be able to continue your outdoor activities for many years to come!