You may feel that with fall right around the corner, the dangers of sunburn have passed. However, sun damage has nothing to do with the temperature; people tend to cover up more when the weather cools, reducing their exposure. But your risks of skin damage from the sun’s UV rays are still there.
That reddening of the skin from sunburn is cells and blood capillaries that have been damaged. Repeated sunburns can cause your skin to become dry, discolored, and wrinkled. The skin may appear to be thicker, but is actually more prone to bruising or further damage.
The greatest risk is skin cancer. This is the most common form of cancer, but you can minimize the chances of contracting it by staying in the shade.
You’ve probably heard that you need sunlight for your body to create vitamin D. While this is true, your body only needs about 15 minutes of sunlight per week to process enough of this important nutrient. Even that isn’t necessary since milk, cereals, and other foods are fortified with vitamin D. You can always buy it in capsule form. It feels great to be out in the sun and fresh air, but you don’t need it to stay healthy.
Avoiding damage from the sun
Simply staying in the shade is the best way to avoid the sun’s harmful effects. Like most people you probably love sunshine, but if you spend much time outdoors you should take precautions:
- Apply sunscreen before going outside. You can buy various levels of protection and it only takes a few moments to rub it over exposed areas. Those who may be especially sensitive should use a sunscreen with SPF (skin protection factor) 30 or higher.
- Stay covered up. You should wear a broad-brimmed hat and long sleeves and pants of a loose, light material that will block the UV rays.
- Stay in the shade in the middle of the day when the sun’s UV rays are strongest, from around 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Use sunglasses to protect your eyes.
How to recover from sun damage:
- Once your skin is damaged, always use sunscreen when leaving the house. Use SPF 15 or better. If skin irritation develops there may be ingredients you’re sensitive to. Consult a dermatologist or experiment with different brands.
- Gently exfoliating your skin, which is the process of removing dead cells from the outer layer, can help it look better and heal faster.
- Moisturize! There are a wide variety of good hydrating products available, many with ingredients like aloe or vitamin E that help promote healing.
- There are some new LED lighting products which are designed to promote collagen production in the cells, and can help to heal and reduce damage to your skin.
- When you’ve developed brown spots or other discolorations, use an over-the-counter lotion made for the problem.
When damage is more severe, always consult a dermatologist. Repeated sunburn can do lasting damage to your skin. If you spend time outdoors take some precautions and stick to the shade whenever possible.