The summer is here and it is a great time to be with family and friends outdoors. That is why as naturopathic doctors we think it is so important to be aware of the sun and the damaging effects it can have on yourself and your family. There are two kinds of UV rays that you need to be aware of UVA (aging) and UVB (burning). We all enjoy the heat that the sun brings in the summer but going outside before applying sun protection can also bring risks that could have affects on your skin.
Photo damaged skin is caused by excessive exposure to sunlight (UVR) which adversely affects all skin’s structural elements. The effects of photo-aged skin typically start to appear in the late 20’s to early 30’s. At this stage the skin begins to feel more dehydrated, fine lines begin to appear along with hyperpigmentation (sun spots) and a lack luster look. Do not be fooled if you think you have not been affected by the sun, the changes are faint and only later will the damage become evident. In addition to photo- aged skin there is an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer).
There is a simple solution, sun protection. Our naturopathic doctors recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen containing several ingredients to provide protection against both UVA and UVB wavelengths of UV radiation. Some key ingredients include Paraminobenzoic Acid (PABA) or its derivatives which help to absorb UV radiation and organic ingredients such as titanium or zinc oxide that reflect UV radiation. The degree of UVB protection that these ingredients provide is measured as a sun protective factor (SPF). If possible you should apply sun protection 15-20 minutes before going outside.
It is important to always be wearing sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher. With any SPF re–applying is as important as the first application. While higher numbers of SPF do increase your protection from the sun’s harmful rays, many people make the mistake of not reapplying their sunscreen. These higher SPF sunscreens are typically more expensive than they need to be and provide a minimal increase in protection.
Sunscreen is one of the best tools we have available. Hats, sunglasses and clothing will also help protect you. In the end your skin will thank you and as a reward your skin will look younger, more hydrated and line free for years to come.