Are you glowing with that summer tan?
Unfortunately there is a pervasive belief in our society that a tan connotes health, affluence and beauty. You’ll hear that a tan offers protection against sunburn. The truth is that a tan offers very little protection against sunburn and we’re starting to learn some startling new truths from recent research, namely that UV harms skin cells’ DNA. This destruction triggers melanogenesis which is a scientific word for production of pigment cells where melanoma (skin cancer) forms. Some of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them; when it doesn’t, skin cancer takes hold.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is never a good thing from a health perspective. The only safe tan is a non-UV self-tanner, which may carry its own risks.
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:
- Wear long sleeves/pants when possible.
- Use a swim shirt to block UV rays in the pool.
- Take advantage of a wide brimmed hat.
- Aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure, avoiding the strong midday sun, for production of Vitamin D before heading for shade or covering up!
- Use broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. If you’re concerned about chemicals, make your own sunscreen.
- Apply to face, ears, neck, hands, legs, any exposed skin, 15 minutes before heading into the sun.
- Reapply after swimming or sweating as even water resistant sunscreens are diluted.
- Reapply every two hours.
National Institutes of Health / U. S. National Library of Medicine