It’s Summer Time! How Should You Protect Your Skin?
Aon Health & Wellbeing Conversation #2
You have probably bought the glamourous swimwear and cool water gear, packed your bags, and are ready to go get that sun-kissed glow.
But have you prepared enough to protect your skin?
Exposure to the sun can help to boost our mood. Our skin also needs the sun to manufacture vitamin D, which is essential for the formation and growth of our bones.
However, about 5 to 15 minutes three times a week of sun is all we need and prolonged exposure allows ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate the outer skin layer, reach deeper down, and kill the cells. What’s more, the sun is most damaging during its peak – between 10am and 2pm – so exposure during that time of day has greater effect.
So, how healthy is your skin? Not just on your face, but all over your body? Look out for these signs of skin damage:
- Sunburn: Red, itchy, warm to the touch, and peels off. In serious cases, blisters may form.
- Age spots, sun spots, liver spots, and wrinkles: Small tan or brown discolourations, with formation of fines lines especially around the eyes and mouth.
- Freckles: Flat, brown spots, mostly apparent on fair skin, which becomes prominent when exposed to the sun. But unlike sun spots or liver spots, freckles become less noticeable as one ages.
- Melasma: Grey, grey-brown, or brown patches on areas that get a lot of sun exposure. This is also triggered by hormones and can be more prevalent on women.
- Birthmarks and moles: May be normal, but could be a sign of a health issue.
- Actinic keratosis: Red or brown, dry, and flaky area on the skin, which could evolve to skin cancer.
- Skin cancer: Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common and treatable types of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma may be harder to treat.
How to prevent skin damage?
- Avoid staying under the sun for extended periods of time.
- Stay indoors when the sun at its peak, between 10am and 2pm.
- Wear protective gear such as long sleeves, pants, caps, or wide-brim hats.
- Use window tints or shades in your car.
- If you have moderate exposure to the sun, use sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (Sun Protection Factor). If you’ll be in the sun for a longer period or during peak hours, use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF or one that says “broad-spectrum” on its label.
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 1.5 hours, or once you sweat or swim.
- If you notice any changes to moles or growths on your skin, have it checked by your dermatologist immediately.