Most people don’t think of using sunscreen except in the height of the summer. However, dermatologists and other medical experts advocate the use of sunscreen all year long to help prevent skin cancer.
More people are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other type of cancer. The diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer rose by 77 percent from 1994 to 2014, which may indicate that more people are following doctors’ recommendations and getting screened regularly.
So, what is the secret to avoiding skin cancer? The best answer is to wear sunscreen and protective clothing at all times. Using sun protection is especially important here in South Florida.
Skin Dangers Exist Outside Summer
The sun brightens our skies, brings life to our planet, and constantly showers the earth with solar radiation – even during cloudy days in the winter. Therefore, the danger of sun damage to the skin exists year-round, even through a cloudy winter sky.
Anytime an individual spends time outside, they need to apply sunscreen on their exposed skin – such as the hands, face, and neck. Reapplication of sunscreen may not be as necessary during the winter as it is during the summer as sweating, swimming, and exertion may be far less.
However, summer weather lasts all year long in places like South Florida, so sunscreen should be applied every day. If you’re wearing clothing that has thin material, it’s best to wear sunscreen underneath; a sunburn can happen if you’re wearing loosely woven clothes, such as a thin T-shirt.
Also, in the northern climates, the presence of snow and ice can actually reflect the sun’s rays upward. This can foster sunburn.
UVA vs. UVB Rays
The sun emits both UVA and UVB (ultraviolet A and B) types of radiation. Both types cause damage to skin and cause mutations in their makeup and DNA.
The changes in the skin, such as altered pigmentation, wrinkles, and age spots, are called photoaging. This is caused by repeated exposure to UV rays.
Photoaging causes the balance of elastin to change – elastin is what helps the skin remain supple and flexible. This change results in an uneven skin tone, depleted levels of collagen, and lost elasticity of the skin.
Clouds filter out UVB rays, but the sun’s UVA rays can even penetrate through windows. Therefore, even if you will be indoors all day but you will be exposed to sunshine through a window, it is best to wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
Melanin and Melanoma
The pigment melanin – which makes a person’s skin tan in response to sun exposure – also can build up in specific places due to sun exposure. This results in uneven skin tone and can cause age spots or liver spots.
The most severe type of skin cancer, melanoma, begins in the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which gives color to the eyes, hair, and skin.
Even those with darker skin are at risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, so it is important to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays all year long.
Experienced Dermatologist in Delray Beach
Many people like to excuse getting too much sun exposure as getting their vitamin D naturally, but the best way to get vitamin D is by eating foods that have vitamin D or by taking supplements.
If your skin is losing elasticity or developing sun spots, age spots, or wrinkles, then it may be time to visit a dermatologist for a checkup. Contact Atlantic Dermatology at (561) 802-7546 (SKIN) today, or request an appointment online now. We look forward to seeing you.