In Central Florida, we are blessed with sunny days for about two-thirds of the year. With so much sunshine pouring down on us, it’s important to remember that too much of anything – including sunshine – can be bad for your health.
The biggest danger of too much sun exposure comes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. UV rays can damage the skin, causing an uncomfortable or even painful sunburn, and potentially leading to cancer. Damage from the sun accumulates over our entire lives and 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer. It is always wise to take steps to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Get into the habit of protecting your skin from sun damage by preparing ahead of time. First of all, think about your clothing. Of course, clothes protect us from the sun’s rays, but some fabrics do this better than others. Cotton lets a lot of ultraviolet radiation pass through it, whereas polyester, nylon, and silk block or reflect UV rays much better. Clothing labeled with an Ultra Protection Factor (UPF) has been tested and rated for its ability to protect against UV radiation. A UPF of 50 blocks 98% of harmful UV radiation. Stretched-out fabrics offer less UV protection, so opt for something looser-fitting. In general, if you can see light through the fabric when holding it up to a light, it’s not effective at blocking UV rays.
Don’t Forget the Eyes, Ears, Nose and Lips
Wearing a broad-brimmed hat will help keep the sun off of your face and neck, and sunglasses labeled “100% UV protection” are definitely helpful. Of course, don’t forget your sunscreen! Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30 on all exposed skin. Just as importantly, don’t forget to reapply every two hours that you are outside. In addition, a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher will help to protect your lips.
Enjoy the summertime, play outdoors, go to the beach, live your life to the fullest – just remember to take a few simple precautions to protect your health and your future.
Bio: Dr. Alex W. Kennon, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist who is fellowship-trained in Mohs micrographic surgery. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Florida State University and completed his dermatology residency at Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Lakeside Dermatology has offices in Sebring and Winter Haven.