There are relatively few ways to make the summertime heat tolerable. One is to stay indoors, but that just isn’t much fun. The outdoors has much more to offer; sunshine, water sports, backyard barbeques. Oh, and we can’t forget about the sun damage that inherently exists in the Great Outdoors.
We’ve come a long way in understanding how the sun can affect the skin. A little too much time outside can leave us with a nasty sunburn. More than that, the ultraviolet light in the sunshine (and tanning beds, too) breaks down healthy collagen to cause premature aging. The effects of a day in the sun may not show up for years. When it does, it can be a challenge to correct. What are we to do to protect our skin without denying ourselves a life fully lived? The first thing we can do is educate ourselves with truths rather than myths.
Don’t Get the Wrong Idea About Sun Protection
A base tan is protective enough.
The idea that a base tan is just what you need before that summer vacation is completely false. A base tan is still a tan and any tan is an indicator of sun damage. Where there is sun damage there will be premature aging as well as an increased risk of skin cancer. Skip the base tan; pop the top on a quality broad-spectrum sunscreen instead.
The majority of sun damage occurs in childhood.
Years ago, research did suggest that this may be the case. Over the years, though, numerous additional studies have debunked that idea. Now, science suggests that only about 25% of the total amount of sun damage one may sustain in their lifetime occurs before the age of 18. What this means in a practical sense is that we all need sunscreen and sun-protective habits regardless of our age.
Dark skin tones have built-in SPF.
There is a small amount of evidence that suggests darker skin tones are less likely to burn. However, the CDC has reported that approximately 30 percent of people with darker skin report that they burn at least once in the period of a year. On that note, we should point out that it was melanoma that ended the life of singer Bob Marley and that statistics indicate a poorer prognosis for darker skin people diagnosed with skin cancer. It is believed that the reason for late diagnosis relates to skin tone itself as well as to this idea that a darker skinned person may be naturally protected from skin cancer.
We are interested in helping our patients avoid the cosmetic implications of sun damage as well as the health concerns related to it. Get to know your skin. Schedule a skin cancer screening in our La Casita or Sonterra office.