Skin Deep

Now that the nice weather has arrived somewhat late, many of you will be looking to catch up on your sun worship- baking in the sun and just enjoying the warmth. So much is written about sun exposure how much is too much? How can you protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays?

All life on earth requires the sun’s energy but sunlight also has a harmful effect on our skin. Excessive sunlight can cause several types of skin cancer not to mention how it unnecessarily ages our skin. The damaging UV or ultraviolet light inhibits normal replication of our skin’s cells when we over expose our skin to the sun. These light rays represent only 0.1 percent of the total energy that comes to us from the sun. Yet chronic sun exposure in Caucasians directly damages the uppermost skin cells resulting in wrinkling, the formation of tiny networks of blood vessels and the appearance of discrete small raised bumps on the skin known as actinic keratosis; better known collectively as age or liver spots.

The depletion of the natural upper atmospheric ozone layer is in part why skin cancers and related disorders of the skin are on the rise. The ozone layer is crucial for the protection of all living organisms acting as a filter, it absorbs the majority of the harmful ultraviolet rays. The chemical compound Chloroflurocarbons, commonly known as CFCs used for refrigeration and air conditioning are damaging the delicate ozone layer allowing more of the harmful UV rays to reach the earth’s surface.

Our skin is exposed internally as well to an increasing number of chemicals from foods and the environment which make it more sensitive to the damaging effects of sunlight. The free radical damage from these chemicals added to the intensity of harmful UV rays leaves our skin vulnerable to cancerous and precancerous lesions.

This year protect you skin as you enjoy the sun and fun of the outdoors.

Here’s how:

Limit your time in the sun without the protection of clothing especially between the hours of 1pm and 3pm when the suns rays are the most damaging.

Wear protective clothing and use sun blockers with a protection rating of 15-30.

Utilize beta carotene in your diet. Carrots are excellent, add broccoli and other green vegetables as well.

See your dermatologist if you have questions about changing moles or skin spots that worry you.

Till next time, Rebecca