The sun plays a crucial role in sustaining life on this planet. By radiating heat and energy, the sun helps plants grow, provides warmth, and gives our bodies vitamin D to support bone growth, proper calcium levels, and immune systems.
We need the sun to survive, but too much exposure to its ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause a number of skin conditions, including skin cancer. So, as you head into summer and prepare for beach vacations or other outdoor activities, it’s important to also prepare for the sun.
Here, Dr. Javier Zelaya and the experienced medical team at Skinworks Dermatology in New York City offer some tips on how to protect your skin from sun damage this summer.
UV radiation can damage your skin
Ultraviolet radiation, one of many forms of energy the sun produces, has a shorter wavelength than visible light. This means you can’t see UV radiation, but you can feel it on your skin.
Two types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) can prematurely age and burn your skin. Unprotected exposure to either form can damage the DNA in your skin cells and result in sunburn and several types of skin cancer.
Tips to protect your skin from sun damage
Here are some ways to help keep your skin healthy in the sun this summer:
Avoid the sun during peak hours
The sun’s heat is at its most intense from 10am to 2pm, and sun damage can happen quickly during this period. If possible, avoid sun exposure during these hours. If you can’t avoid it, wear protective clothing.
While the air in summer isn’t as dry as in the colder months, your skin can still lose moisture. A light moisturizer with SPF protection can help keep you from drying out in the summer heat.
Apply sunscreen regularly
Even if your moisturizer has SPF protection, it shouldn’t replace sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least SPF 30 sunscreen to protect against sun damage. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Exfoliate your skin
Your skin sweats to cool off, but sweat and sunscreen can clog your pores. Exfoliating twice a week to keep your pores open can help prevent other skin problems. Avoid exfoliating areas of your skin that already have sun damage, as it can make the problem worse.
Wear sun protection gear
If you’re planning on spending lots of time in the sun, your summer wear should include a wide-brimmed hat, UV-400 sunglasses, and loose, dark-colored clothes, woven fabrics, or clothes with UV-absorbing properties.
Check skin regularly
Sun damage shows up in different ways, from sunburn to moles and other skin tags. Even if moles or skin patches don’t hurt, skin changes can indicate other issues.
It’s natural to want to enjoy summer weather, but protect yourself when you go out. And if you have skin problems from UV damage or see changes in your skin, Dr. Zelaya can help. Call the Skinworks Dermatology office in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope, or book your visit online.