Everyone loves a healthy glow, but the simple truth is that tanned skin is damaged skin.
Years of getting too much sun can lead to early wrinkling and age spots, and makes you more likely to get skin cancer.
Smart Steps to Take
To help your skin avoid sun damage:
- Try to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Protect your skin with clothing, a hat, and sunscreen if you do go outside.
Sunscreen prevents sunburn by protecting your skin against the sun's ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet radiation includes both UVA, which is thought to cause skin aging, and UVB, which is mostly responsible for sunburn and skin cancers.
What SPF Means
The sun protection factor (SPF) in sunscreens is a measure of their ability to prevent burns from sun exposure. Choose a sunscreen with the correct SPF to avoid sunburn and damage.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher that says "broad-spectrum" on the label (which means it protects against the sun's UVA and UVB rays) and is water-resistant.
When and How Often to Use Sunscreen
You should wear sunscreen every day, regardless of the weather or season. Put it all over your exposed skin about 15 minutes to 30 minutes before going outside.
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after you sweat or swim.
If you wear foundation, apply sunscreen as well as foundation or buy foundation that has sunscreen in it.
When to Call a Doctor
If you notice any mark, bump, blemish, or mole that is changing, growing, or bleeding, call your doctor or see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is often treatable when it's found early.
Also, talk to your doctor about any medications that you take. Some antibiotics, antidepressants, and diabetes drugs can make skin more sensitive to sun. Some drugs that you put on your skin, such as Renova and Retin-A, can make your skin very sensitive and cause it to burn quickly. If you use these treatments, ask your doctor how to protect your skin from the sun.
What to Do If You Get a Sunburn
Immediately apply 90% aloe vera gel or the "juice" squeezed directly from the aloe plant. Aloe vera is used as a treatment for sunburn in every tropical culture. It soothes damaged skin and may help to prevent the burn from deepening.
If you don't have aloe, apply a moisturizing lotion that doesn't contain alcohol.
A sunburn with blisters is a second-degree burn and puts you at high risk for skin problems. Consider seeing a doctor if your sunburn has blistered.