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Illuminating Potential Issues With Prolonged Sun Exposure

Aug 20, 2008
The public's understanding of the dangers involved in sun exposure has increased enormously over the past few years, the result of a more intense focus on the issue by news media and the medical community's expanded screening efforts. Despite rising awareness, myths about sun exposure and year-round safety measures that should be taken still exist. These misunderstandings about skin protection can lead to unintentionally hazardous sun exposure.

Oftentimes, women make sure their children are covered in sunscreen but fail to make it a priority for themselves. Some cosmetics companies include sunscreen in moisturizers and foundations but the sun protection factor generally is low.

To keep skin healthy and safe and to help minimize the sun's escalating effect on fine lines and wrinkles, be aware of the consequences of exposure to ultraviolet rays by knowing the facts to protect your skin.

Sun Exposure Myths & Facts

Most people think that they only need to be concerned about skin protection in the summer. The problem with this thinking is that sun protection is essential all year long. Snow and ice are very efficient reflectors of ultraviolet rays and, compared to normal conditions, generate almost twice the risk of UV damage.

I have also heard people say that they are safe from UV exposure as long as they are not outside in the sun. This could not be further from the truth. Windows in your car or house do not provide protection. UV rays easily penetrate them.

Some also believe that they should sunbathe for an hour a day just to get enough vitamin D. However, studies indicate that 45 minutes of sun exposure daily to the face, neck and hands provides adequate production of vitamin D, and exposure during daily activities like walking the dog or exercising usually provide this amount.

Occasionally I have had patients tell me they think a base tan from a tanning bed is safe and will help avoid dangerous rays. The fact is you should stay away from tanning parlors and tanning equipment. Any exposure to UV rays adds to the risk of skin damage and cancer.

I have even heard some say that a single sunburn will only minimally increase their risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, one blistering sunburn doubles the risk of melanoma, so sun bathing should be avoided.

Tips for Protecting Your Skin

Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are most intense. Cover up with a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunglasses that block UV rays. Most important of all, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, even when it's cloudy. Don't forget to apply it to commonly missed areas, such as ears, nose and top of your feet. Sun-sensitive individuals should look for even greater protection and use products like a good SPF 65 that provides full-spectrum protection by blocking both UVA and UVB.

It's Not too Late to Reverse Some Sun Damage

If you already have spots, wrinkles or visible blood vessels from sun exposure, a number of skin treatments are available to reduce the appearance of these skin irregularities. Traditional techniques involve chemical peels, dermabrasion or lightening creams, all of which destroy the epidermis to different degrees. New technology, however, is safe, non-invasive, uses pulsed light and radiofrequency waves, and serves to stimulate collagen repair lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

A treatment commonly referred to as skin rejuvenation combines revitalizing energy-based skin rejuvenation with alternating treatments of microdermabrasion for safe, rapid skin renewal. The system targets skin irregularities while stimulating new collagen production, helping to eliminate freckles and sun spots and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The treatment is quick and painless. There is no need for any needles or anesthesia, the spots rarely return, and the risk of scarring is very minimal. My patients who have received skin rejuvenation treatments have seen great results in reversing damage done to skin due to prolonged exposure to the sun.

To protect yourself, learn all the facts about sun exposure. Be aware that UVA waves are present year-round, from sunrise to sunset. Know that prevention is always easier than trying to reverse the damage. You'll look and feel healthier when you keep your family and yourself protected from damaging UV rays.

By taking a short amount of time to apply sunscreen every day, you can save time and money in the future by taking steps to prevent skin and health issues related to sun exposure.
About the Author
AmericanLaser.com is the largest and most successful laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation and cellulite reduction therapy company, with more than 220 locations in the United States. For more information, please visit AmericanLaser.com.
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