Anyone who gets a good deal of outdoor exposure may be putting themselves at a much higher risk for skin cancer unnecessarily. The ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause skin damage come almost entirely from the sun, however that doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the sun at all times. Simply being smart about your sun exposure (and therefore, your UV exposure) and using proper sun protection is the best way to be able to enjoy the great outdoors while you stay healthy.
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The Effects of Sunburn
Sunburn can be the inevitable effect of too much sun exposure without any protection. Not only does a sunburn look awful – nobody wants that angry red skin, after all – but it also has other serious effects. Within a few days, the sunburned skin will start to peel and shed, which makes it itchy and extremely uncomfortable in general. A person who has repeated sunburns in their life is far more likely to have premature aging of the skin. This can lead to lines, wrinkles, and sunspots even in younger people. Melanoma is a potential risk of sun exposure, too. Allowing yourself to become sunburned continually can impact every area of your life in a negative way.
The Reality of Foregoing Sun Protection
Every person has different skin, so the amount of time it takes to get burned will vary. It can take as little as 10 minutes for those with extremely sensitive skin or as much as 45 minutes for people who tan easily. Some doctors say that for most people, about 20 minutes of sun exposure a day is safe, however, its best to protect yourself before heading outside so you don’t have to cut your outdoor fun short. Even if it’s cloudy outside, up to 80% of UV rays can pass through the clouds, which means you are still getting sun exposure and can still get sunburned. This is also true if you’re sitting outdoors in the shade or under a beach umbrella. Overall, if you’re outside you should have sun protection.
Signs of Skin Cancer
There are several early warning signs of skin cancer.
• Any skin growth that changes in size.
• Skin growths that are white, clear, tan, dark brown, black, or a combination of these colors.
• A skin growth that appears after age 21 for the first time
• A skin growth that changes in texture
• Any skin growth bigger than the eraser of a pencil
How to Stay Safe in the Sun
Reapply sunscreen frequently (read: every hour) if you plan to spend any significant length of time outside. When you swim, be sure to reapply sunscreen as soon as you get out of the water.
UV protective hats and clothing with high UPF levels are very helpful. The majority of baseball caps only have a UPF of 6, but Chrome Dome Caps have an impressive UPF of 50 plus. These caps wick away sweat, block UVA and UVB rays, and are crafted from compression fabric that allows for a truly custom fit.
While in the sun, don’t neglect to protect the delicate areas that people often forget about. This includes not only the scalp but also the neck and the ears. Remember, keeping yourself safe in the sun is much easier than dealing with the effects of sun damage!