Summer means a few things: bikinis, cookouts, fireworks, beaches and lots and lots of sun. Almost everyone enjoys a nice day out but too much sun can have some serious consequences.

Over-exposure to the sun’s rays can lead to minor things such as freckles or extreme cases cancer. So, while everyone loves to soak up some rays, sun protection is extremely important and should be on everyone’s mind this summer. The effects of sun-exposure can sound daunting but there are plenty of ways to protect the skin while enjoying a sunny afternoon.

Everyone’s been out in the sun for an hour or two and by that time it’s too late before you notice your skin has turned apple-red. One sunburn might not seem like a big deal but sun damage has the potential to lead to some serious medical issues.

Everyone’s skin contains a chemical called melanin, the skin’s first line of defense against the sun’s harmful UV rays. A sunburn happens when the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, is exposed to more UV radiation than the melanin can ward off. After a sunburn, the dead skin cells peel and fall off, revealing a “new” layer of skin.

Lifeguards like Kevin Turchick know the importance of skincare and are diligent with covering up every summer.

“I use a shirt and suntan lotion,” Turchick said. “Sometimes an umbrella if I’m feeling lazy.”

Everyone can get a sunburn and should wear sun protection, but as my fellow fair-skinned girls know, it’s much easier for some people to get sunburned than others. As a general trend, people with darker skin tend to produce more melanin, making it harder for them to get burned. A severe sunburn can penetrate deep into the skin and damage parts of a person’s DNA.

No one wants to get wrinkles but that’s exactly what happens with over-exposure to the sun over a long period of time. According to the World Health Organization, up to 90 percent of the attributes associated with aging can be attributed to sun exposure. Sunbathing without proper protection may lead to an even tan in the moment but can cause wrinkles and skin-sagging prematurely.  

Many people experience freckles as a side-effect of sun exposure. Freckles are genetic but can be triggered by sun exposure. Freckles are basically melanin that formed unevenly into dark spots on the skin’s surface to prevent sun damage. Freckles indicate a person’s sensitivity to the sun.

The most notable and most dangerous effect of sun-exposure is the potential to get skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers and in most cases, can be caused directly by excessive sun exposure. When DNA is warped from a bad sunburn, genetic defects in the DNA can form and lead to cancerous tumors. If treated early, melanoma can usually be cured. Often times though, melanoma shows little-to-no symptoms and can become deadly.

Skin damage from sun exposure can seem daunting but there are lots of ways to prevent a sunburn.

The most obvious way to prevent sun damage is lathering up with sunblock. It’s recommended that a minimum of SPF 30 sunblock should be applied and reapplied at least once every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

However, sunblock isn’t just for the beach. A sunburn can happen any time of year and it’s always important to be prepared. Reach for a moisturizer that contains sunblock to keep your skin protected year round.

Another great way to stay safe from the sun is to cover up whenever outside. No one wants to cover their cute bikini at the pool, so try a cute komono or a big sun hat. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself covered while still looking fashionable in a bathing suit. This is a good thing because sunburns are never in style.

 

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Photo provided by: Tess Acierno

 

Sources:

https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma

http://www.who.int/uv/sun_protection/en/

https://www.sunsaferx.com/health-and-wellness/how-much-does-sun-age-skin/

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sun-safety.html

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