by Jaskiran Brar
Melanin is the pigment that makes skin brown. People with more melanin have darker skin. Melanin absorbs UV and is thus a natural sunscreen, and is probably the reason that dark skinned people have a lower skin cancer rate than fairer folks. Apart from cancer, sun exposure will also cause someone to wrinkle. This wrinkling is called "premature aging," which is where the skin becomes thick, wrinkled, ashy(dark circles), and leathery.
Most of our cumulative sun damage occurs from occasional, non-deliberate exposure, which is referred to as causal exposure. This is sun exposure that we get from
walking the dog, going to the mailbox, walking to work, or even sitting by a window – because UVA rays cut right through glass.
Your chances of developing a sunburn are greatest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest. It is easier to burn on a hot day, because heat increases the effects of UV rays, but you can also get a sunburn on overcast days as well.
Sun protection is also important in the winter. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, causing sunburn and damage to uncovered skin. Winter sports in the
mountains increase the risk of sunburn because there is less atmosphere at high altitudes to block the sun's rays. Most of our sun damage occurs before we turn 18 years old. This is why it is so important to protect children from sun exposure and to teach them to apply sunscreen every single day. Sun damage that causes what we think of as premature aging occurs over a lifetime and we must use sunscreens every single day to prevent damage. For someone who is already sun damaged, it may be too late to prevent what has already happened, but it is never too late to start preventing further damage.
Tips for Sun Protection:
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days.
If exposed to water, either through swimming or sweating, a water-resistant sunscreen should be used.
Reapply sunscreen frequently.
Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
Sit in the shade whenever possible.
Wear protective, tightly-woven clothing.
Plan outdoor activities early or late in the day to avoid peak sunlight hours between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Everyone should be able to enjoy sunny days. By using a little common sense, as well as the guidelines developed by the American Academy of Dermatology, you can safely work and play outdoors without worrying too much about skin cancer or wrinkles. But if either should occur, your dermatologist or licensed aesthetician has specific expertise in treatment options.