There really is no other feeling like going out and relaxing or having an adventure on a bright and sunny day. The warm temperatures can be incredibly therapeutic, and when the sun is out, we just feel happier. However, while the sun offers many benefits, prolonged exposure without the proper protection can lead to sun damage now and in the future.
While most of us understand that we need to take precautions during the summer, the sun doesn’t go away with the changing of the seasons, so caution during the winter is just as crucial. To ensure the protection of your skin all year round, we have some great information about that bright star in the sky and how to protect yourself against its harmful rays.
The Sun is a Blessing and a Curse
In addition to heating our planet and allowing life to thrive, the sun has many other benefits that help humans live long and healthy lives. For instance, the sun provides the Vitamin D that helps to keep our immune system strong, which reduces the chance of sickness and infections. On top of that, Vitamin D is essential for strong bones. The sun also boosts your body’s level of serotonin, which helps to fight off depression and improve mental health.
Of course, it is not all fun and games, because as most of us know, prolonged exposure to the sun can be extremely dangerous over time. It starts with sunburn, which many of us think is a minor inconvenience, but it is really the sun damaging our skin cells and blood vessels, and over time, the damage can become permanent as your skin becomes leathery and discolored. If you experience sunburn repeatedly over time, you are more likely to develop skin cancer. Five or more sunburns in your lifetime can double your chances of developing melanoma.
Although your skin will absorb most of the damage, prolonged sun exposure without the proper protection can also affect other parts of your body that you may not realize. For starters, excessive sun exposure can create a venous insufficiency which can lead to unsightly spider veins that can be painful over time. Failure to take the proper protection when exposed to sunlight can also cause dehydration and migraines. Needless to say, if you are outside a lot, you’ll live a longer and healthier life if you are serious about skin protection.
All About Sunscreen
As you probably imagined, the best protection for your skin is the use of sunscreen, which should be used to some degree all year long, especially if you spend all day out in the sun. Even if it isn’t always bright and sunny, you can get a sunburn during the wintertime as well. Winter sunburn is more likely for people who live in snowy climates or at higher elevations because the sun can reflect off of the snow and get you from two angles. When you consider it that way, the misconception that the sun isn’t dangerous like it is in the summer can make winter sun damage even more dangerous because most people aren’t properly protected.
When you go outside, you should apply a coat of sunscreen to all exposed parts of your body. At a minimum, you will want to wear a lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, even if you feel that you don’t burn that often. Children need to wear sunscreen because their skin is fairer and not yet completely developed. For them, look for lotions specifically made for children that will likely have an SPF of 15 or above.
When applying sunscreen, make sure to use a generous amount at least 20 minutes before you go outdoors, so there is time for the lotion to absorb. You should cover all over your body, including your face and even places most people forget, like lips, ears, and the back of your hands. Women who wear makeup should first apply a layer of sunscreen and then put the makeup over that so you can protect your skin and continue to be beautiful for years to come.
Other Protections Against The Sun
While sunblock is essential, if you plan to spend the entire day outside, then you may want to add on extra protection against the sun. Start with wearing the proper clothing, including a large hat. Wearing a hat is always recommended, especially if you have less hair because the constant sun exposure that blasts the top of your head could be a fast track to skin cancer. You should also wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against harmful UV rays.
Perhaps the best way to protect your skin against harmful sun exposure is to avoid going outside during the hottest and brightest times of the day. The hours between 10 AM and 4 PM are when the rays from the sun are their most intense. If you must be outside during that part of the day, then using sunscreen and wearing the proper clothing are essential, and you should spend as much time as possible in the shade.
It should be noted that some medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and some blood pressure pills can make your skin even more sensitive to the sun when mixed with the UV rays, so it may be best for those who deal with those ailments to avoid sunlight as often as possible, especially immediately after taking the medication. In these cases, a sunscreen with an SPF above 45 is ideal.
In the end, the protection of our skin and our physical health is the number one priority, so take one risk factor out of the equation by being smart about sun exposure. Follow the tips above and have a great day outside!