Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Reduce Skin Damage in the Sun?

Spending time outdoors on a warm, sunny day is one of the joys of summer, but too much unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to damaged skin. While sunburn is an immediately noticeable sign of sun-damaged skin, other signs of damage may not appear until years after sun exposure occurs. Avoiding sun damage involves using products that block the sun's dangerous rays from reaching the skin and limiting the time you spend in the sun.
The sun produces long rays of light called ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and short rays, called ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Both types of rays can damage the skin. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays and play a part in wrinkling, skin aging and the development of skin cancers. UVA rays are associated with the tan appearance skin takes on after repeated exposure. UVB rays cause sunburn and also cause skin cancers. UVA rays are present with relatively equal intensity throughout the day, while UVB rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from April through October, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Common short-term symptoms of sun damage include red or tan skin after sun exposure. Sun damage may occur even if you developed a tan without ever having a sunburn. Tanning occurs when the body attempts to protect itself from further sun damage by increasing the amount of melanin produced in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color. In addition to wrinkles and premature aging, long-term sun exposure can also cause age spots. Age spots are tan, brown or gray spots that appear on the skin in middle age. Skin cancers are the most serious effects of sun damage, and depending on the type, skin cancer may appear as rough or dry red areas on the skin, lumps, bleeding sores or changes in the shape, color or size of moles.
Risk Factors
The amount of time spent in the sun without protection increases your chances of developing wrinkles, premature aging, age spots or sun cancer. People who have fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at greater risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing skin cancer include chronic skin inflammation, burns or scars on skin, arsenic exposure, radiation therapy, family history of skin cancer, infection with some human papilloma viruses and conditions or drugs that cause immune system suppression. People who have Bowen's disease or actinic keratosis may also be more likely to develop skin cancer. Bowen's disease causes patches of skin scales or thickened skin, while actinic keratosis causes scaly growths to form on the areas of the skin exposed to the sun.
Sunscreens are helpful in preventing the sun's rays from reaching your skin. The SCF recommends using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher that also contains some combination of UVA-screening ingredients, including ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, zinc oxide or titanium oxide. An SPF of 15 means that it will take 15 times longer for your skin to burn while using the sunscreen. If your skin would normally burn after five minutes of sun exposure, using an SPF15 sunscreen will provide you with 75 minutes of sun protection.
In addition to using sunscreen, you can minimize sun damage by reducing sun exposure. Spending time outdoors in the early morning or evening, rather than the middle of day, can help you avoid the sun's strongest rays. Long-sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses with ultraviolet protection may be helpful in reducing exposure to the sun. Some manufacturers produce clothing that is manufactured with built-in ultraviolet protection.

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