About skin damage
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and a significant part of our overall wellness is dependent upon good skin health. It’s especially important no matter what age we are, to protect our skin from the sun.
In this post we’ll examine how exposure to the sun causes damage; explore the benefits of sunblock; share what to watch for if you suspect you may have skin cancer, list ways to prevent skin damage from ever occurring and point you to our WWMG expert should you need assistance with skin protection or after-care from damage.
How much time in the sun increases risk for skin damage?
Though sunlight is a wonderful source of Vitamin D, can improve our mood and helps regulate our sleep cycles, too much time enjoying it unprotected can be dangerous for our skin. Just 5 – 10 minutes of exposure can be harmful (especially for fair-skinned people) due to the ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can penetrate the skin and cause everything from an immediate sunburn to long-term wrinkles, age spots, freckles, discolorations and even skin cancer. It’s important for skin health to wear sunblock during any time spent outdoors.
What are the benefits of sunblock?
Sunscreen is made up of physical chemicals and particles that are used to reflect UV radiation away from the skin. This helps prevent sunburns, lowers skin cancer risk, prevents premature aging of the skin and helps you maintain an even skin tone. When used regularly and re-applied often during exposure, sunblock is proven to act as a shield against the sun’s harmful rays.
Natural sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block the rays instead of absorb them, which may be preferred for those who want to avoid chemical absorption into the bloodstream. The chemicals oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone have all been shown to be absorbed when using regular sunscreens.
What are the signs of skin damage or skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., caused when UV light enters skin cells and harms the DNA within. This damage then divides and grows, which may lead to extra cells that form lesions or tumors. Not all skin growths are cancerous, but each year over 3 million people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, so any skin abnormality should be taken seriously.
Watch for small spots on the skin, new growths, changing spots or changes in an existing mole. Some may appear as a waxy bump on the face, ears or neck; others could surface as flat pink or brown-colored spots on arms or legs. Many bumps can itch or bleed as well.
A good way to remember what to look for is by recalling the “ABCDE rule.”
- Watch for irregular shape (Asymmetry)
- Notice blurry edges (Border)
- Discover moles with more than one skin tone (Color)
- Pay special attention if the spot is larger than a pencil eraser (Diameter)
- Get checked out if anything changes color, size or shape (Evolution)
What are ways to prevent skin damage?
There are several ways to be proactive about caring for our skin:
Limit sun exposure. It’s wonderful to spend time in the fresh air outside, but if at all possible, avoid the most intense hours of sunlight, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Use sunscreen. No matter what type of skin you have, it’s important to wear and re-apply sunblock often anytime you’re outdoors during the day.
Wear protective clothing. Hats, long sleeves, pants and shoes all give you more protection than leaving more of your skin exposed by wearing shorts, T-shirts and sandals.
Hydrate. When you keep your skin moist by drinking water, tea or other healthy liquids, this helps protect your skin from the inside out.
Apply gentle skincare products. A good moisturizer with hyaluronic acid or coconut oil helps keep moisture in the skin, but be sure to avoid hot showers, which can dry out your skin.
Use a humidifier. If your skin is dry, help hydrate the air inside your home, and keep your skin moist, with a humidifier.
Where can I get additional help for my skin?
To explore skin treatment options, we recommend scheduling a consult with one of our primary care providers to evaluate your needs. If you have general questions about WWMG, complete our contact form with your inquiry and we’ll be in touch shortly.