SUN EXPOSURE: Effects on Our Skin
By: Michael Appleman, M.S.

Sun exposure is no longer believed to be an entirely healthy benefit for us all. Many of us are outdoors for recreational and work activities. All individuals need to be aware of this. Burn Survivors particularly need to take precautions and try to stay out of the direct sun light.

Ultraviolet light(UV) is the problem we have with the sun. It is an invisible energy. It has been found that when the UV ray enters the skin, it may damage the skin cells. This can cause both visible and invisible types of injury. First the visible damage can be immediate. It will be sunburn. The
delayed result, is a result of the skin not being capable of completely repairing the UV induced cell damage. The unrepaired


damage adds up year after year. After 20 to 30 years or more, the damage from the UV rays create wrinkles, pigmented spots and precancerous and cancerous lesions on the uncovered skin's surface.

Protection from the sun is so important for all. Lattitude, altitude, time of day, the season, reflextion, clothing and wearing sunscreen all influence the damaging effects of the sun on a person. They take part in determining how much UV will contact the skin. The final result is how much cellular alteration occurs? It is estimated that around 80% of your lifetime wxposure to the sun occurs in the first 18 years of your life.

It has been found that it is best to avoid direct contact with the sun during midday. This is between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., daylight savings time. Try to limit the amount of direct contact with the sun since the sun rays are more intense. When you must be out doors, apply sunscreen with a minimum Skin Protection Factor(SPF) of 15. The higher the SPF, the more protection including time of sun contact you will have. The invisible sunscreens trap the UV energy and prevent it from damaging your skin.

Finally, a hat and light clothing should be worn when outdoors. It is also wise to wear a shirt while swimming.

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