Here in Arizona, we live in an area where people get a higher than normal amount of sun exposure. And there is no doubt about it; the sun can damage our skin. There are two things to consider, one is damaging to your health and the other will cause you to appear to age faster. Depending on your genetics, your exposure to the sun and your skin type, skin cancers (squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma) are a real danger.
The other side of sun exposure is that it can damage your skin and make you look much older and more weathered than you may be. Skin is damaged with too much sun exposure. You can save yourself a lot of effort and money in the future if as a young person you protect yourself now. We recommend these specific instructions:
You must reapply every three hours. No matter how “waterproof” it is, after three hours, you will lose coverage and protection.
Use a 15 SPF or higher with a metal ion ingredient like zinc oxide. This will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
Keep in mind that not everyone can get a sun tan but everyone can get sun damage. The Fitzpatrick Scale was developed in 1975 by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick. It is a way to classify the response of different types of skin to UV light. Fair complected, light eyes is a Fitzpatrick 1 and the other end progresses in darkness to be classified as a Ftizpatrick 7. A Fitzpatrick 1 will never get a tan and will always burn and then the spectrum continues until you get to a Fitzpatrick 7 which describes the complexion of someone who will never burn and will always be dark when exposed to sun. Because a Fitzpatrick 1 has less melatonin, they are at greater risk for skin cancers and need to protect themselves and accept that a tan is not going to happen for them. Melatonin gives a certain amount of natural sun protection, so the less melatonin you have, the less natural protection you have.
From an over all health standpoint, regardless of your known risk factors, it makes sense to protect yourself from too much sun exposure at all times. Some of the damage may already have been done in your childhood, but it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin and your health. The availability to sunblocks that are easy to use and highly effective are many. I will recommend sun block to every single patient I see regardless of the reason for their visit.
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