Summer Sun and Your Skin
Summer is upon us, and so is the sun! This 4.5 billion year old star continues to emit many types of electromagnetic radiation. The type responsible for damaging our skin and causing skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
The most common form of UV radiation is sunlight, which produces 2 main types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. Most of the UV rays our skin comes into contact with are UVA and a small amount of UVB.
· Up to 95% of the UVA radiation reaches the Earth’s surface
· Presents with equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year
· Can penetrate clouds and glass
· Penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB
· Chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn
· Intensity varies by season, location, and time of day
· Doesn’t significantly penetrate glass
The ultraviolet index (UVI) is a rating scale with numbers ranging from 1 to 11. It indicates the amount of skin-damaging rays reaching the Earth’s surface. The higher the number, the more intense the UV rays we are exposed to.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body. Its many functions include
· Helping control body temperature
· Protecting the body from UV rays
· Helping the body make vitamin D
Melanin is the brown pigment that gives our skin color.
· People with albinism (albino), make little or no melanin, leaving pale, white skin
· Fair-skinned people produce very little melanin
· Darker-skinned people produce larger amounts
· Melanin is evenly distributed in the skin, but can sometimes pool together causing freckles or age spots
When our skin cells are exposed to UV radiation, the body responds by increasing blood flow to the area (causing redness), releasing chemicals (causing a painful burning sensation), and producing melanin (dark, tanned appearance).
Excessive UV radiation damages the skin’s DNA, causing changes that can lead to skin cancer.
Protecting your Skin:
· Seek shade, especially between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
· Add a tinted protective film to your car and house windows
· Wear special sun-protective clothes
· Wear broad-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses
· Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn
The effectiveness of a sunscreen is measured by its Sun Protection Factor (SPF). An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of the sun's UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97%; and SPF 50, 98%.
· Since both UVA and UVB are harmful, we need protection from both kinds of rays, often referred to as ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen
· Apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
· Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of 6 months
· Use a water-resistant sunscreen when going in the water
Sunscreen Pills: On May 22, 2018, the FDA sent warning letters to companies illegally marketing pills and capsules labeled as dietary supplements that make unproven drug claims about protecting consumers from the harms of sun exposure. These companies are putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from the risks of skin cancer.