If you love sunbathing or make an effort to maintain a golden -brown tan, you’re unwittingly contributing to the aging of your skin. Sunbathing destroys the elastic fibers that keep skin looking firm and smooth. That leads to earlier wrinkles, blotches, freckles, and discolorations. More important, sunburns contribute significantly to cancers of the skin.
If you’ve augmented sun-kissed color with trips to the tanning salon, beware: Using tanning beds doesn’t, as advertisements suggest, build up a “safe” base tan- it actually raises your risk for skin cancer and wrinkles. In a study from Brown University Medical School, researchers found that tanning-bed aficionados were as much as 1 ½ times as likely to develop one of the three common forms of skin cancer as people who don’t use tanning beds. Some beds put out higher levels of ultraviolet (UV) rays than the UV levels emitted by the midday summer sun.
Sun exposure, especially if your quest for the perfect tan has left you sunburned, damages skin in ways that cannot be repaired. But there’s plenty you can do to prevent future damage – and to spot skin cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages.
Here is a repair plan for your sun damaged skin:
Schedule an annual skin check by a dermatologist.
Your doctor will inspect you for moles, growths, and any other unusual skin changes. If they are spotted, your doctor will likely test a small sample to determine the nature of the growth. Ask your family doctor and gynecologist to be on the lookout for suspicious moles, too.
Always wear sunscreen when outdoors.
Keep high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens by your back door, In your car, in your purse, or anywhere else handy. Get in the habit of spending the 30 seconds it takes on the way out the door to rub some on your face, scalp, and exposed arms and legs.
Stay safe in the sun.
Stay in the shade or wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants during peak sunburn hours, 10:00am to 4:00pm.
At the beach, wear a sun-protection water shirt.
Surfers do. They are the equivalent of a high SPF sunblock lotion, and they don’t wash off in water!
Get your glow from a self-tanning product instead of the sun.
Tanning creams and gels can give your skin a bronzed look without the cancer risk.
Know a danger sign when you see it.
A melanoma may be blackish/brownish with irregular edges – but it could also be red, pink, or waxy, or it could be a sore that won’t heal. Other warning signs include itching, bleeding, sensitivity to touch, or obvious growth. Basically, anything that doesn’t look right to you on your skin deserves to be checked by a doctor.
Sip Green Tea.
There is some evidence that polyphenols in green tea may protect your cells against cancer-causing sun damage.
I am unfortunately one of those ones that spent too much time in tanning salons when I was young. Being blond and blue eyed I have many of the risk factor for skin cancer so all these rules above I need to follow myself. How should I or you start? Well, start with one and once you have mastered it work on to the next one. To bite off a little bit at a time insures that you have an easier time sticking with something and lots of little bites or step eventually leads to mastery!
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