Over three and a half million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Sadly, skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, yet many do not take the steps necessary to combat potentially life threatening sun damage. The sooner you detect skin problems due to sun exposure, the better your chances of surviving skin cancer. That means knowing the risks and how to protect yourself.
How do you know if you’ve been exposed to too much sun? The signs of overexposure include things like:
While most people experience sunburn at some point in their lives, repeated cases of sunburn can lead to more serious skin conditions including cancer. Here are the 5 main risks of overexposure to the sun.
#1: Simple Sunburns Can be Dangerous
It happens when you are trying to get a nice tan. You lie out in the sun for a little too long or forget to use sunscreen. Next thing you know your skin is red as a crab and sensitive to the touch. You have just experienced UV damage to your skin cells.
Your immune system kicks into gear to protect your skin by sending blood to the area which results in the redness and burning sensation you feel. You probably won’t get cancer from one sunburn but if you are the type that regularly burns over the summer you are increasing your risk of skin cancer and other serious conditions.
#2: Overexposure to the Sun Can Age Your Skin Prematurely
Inevitably, everyone is going to age and wrinkle. Overexposure to the sun just ages your skin more rapidly. The technical term for it is photoaging and it results in blotchy skin, wrinkles, dark spots, and your skin becomes weathered and leathery. Even though photoaging is not necessarily lethal, it is not a good look for a thirty year old who looks fifty because of sun damage.
#3: It Can Cause Skin Cancer
Of course, the number one risk of sun damage is skin cancer. Most skin cancers are non-melanoma (less lethal than melanoma). Deaths due to skin cancer are by far most often caused by melanoma. Keep in mind that non-melanoma can turn into malignant skin cancer (or melanoma) but has the greatest success rate of recovery if it is caught early.
You’ll notice melanomas (new dark circles or moles) appearing on your face, back, your hands, your neck, ears, maybe even your lips. Whatever part of your body has been overexposed to the sun will reveal skin damage that should be investigated as soon as possible.
Before you are diagnosed with full blown skin cancer, there is a condition called actinic where sun exposure over long periods of time develops into malignant skin cancer. This condition affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. annually. Signs of this type of skin damage are tiny bumps or scales that do not go away after your sunburn is healed or after tanning.
#4: It Can Damage Your Eyes
UV protective sunglasses can be your best friend when out in the sun. Most people never even think about their eyes when it comes to sun damage. However, you can burn your corneas just like you burn your skin after prolonged periods of time out in the sun.
This condition is called Photokeratitis sometimes referred to as snow blindness. You’ll know that your eyes have suffered sun damage if:
Surprisingly, this condition is most commonly associated with cold snowy climates. The damage is caused from UV rays reflected off of the snow but it can also be caused from artificial tanning heat lights.
#5: It Can Suppress Your Immune System
Sustained overexposure to the sun can result in a diminishing of your immune system. Your immune system helps to counteract sun damage. A weakened immune system and sun damage will prevent your body from combating skin disease and may make medicines to treat the damage less effective.
Avoiding the negative effects of sun damage is actually fairly simple. Here are 5 steps you can take to stay safe in the sun:
#1: Prevent Skin Burns – Sunburns are not part of sun tanning. Repeated incidents of sunburn can result in skin disease.
#2: Do Not Go to Tanning Salons – Artificial heat lamps are bad for your skin and your eyes – just don’t use them.
#3: Protect Your Skin with Topical Sunscreen – Use a high SPF sun block for fair skin and reapply it every couple of hours while outdoors or in the water, even if the sun is not out.
#4: Use Visors, Sunglasses, and Umbrellas for Shade – Dress appropriately when outdoors including covering your eyes with visors or sunglasses and protecting your skin with an umbrella.
#5: Take Frequent Breaks from the Water – Don’t stay in the water for hours at a time at the pool or beach. Get out every hour or two and reapply sunscreen and sit in the shade for 30 minutes.
See the Skin Care Specialists at Pure Luxe Medical Today
The sun isn’t the only thing damaging your skin. Your everyday environment could be negatively impacting your skin. At Pure Luxe Medical, we are your skin care specialists. Our skin treatments are designed to reverse the effects of aging and heal damaged skin. If prolonged exposure to the sun has left you with leathery, discolored skin, contact us today.