Skin cancer is on the rise in America, with over 5 million people treated for this disease annually and a 300% increase in the number of diagnoses since 1994. The need to protect your skin is trumpeted by physicians and cosmetics companies, but people still don’t seem to heed the warnings.
In case cancer isn’t scary enough, if you fail to protect your skin adequately you also risk developing more wrinkles, causing you to look much older than you actually are.
It can be simple to protect your skin. A few easy techniques will save you a lifetime of problems.
Here are 7 guidelines for skin protection which will protect your epidermis for years to come.
1. Cover Up!
Take a cue from the outfits worn by women in the world’s hottest climates: instead of wearing less, people who live in sub-Saharan Africa or on the equator tend to wear long, loose clothing. Lightweight breathable fabrics that protect against the sun are the best way to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
Even if you like to wear shorts and tank tops, try to remember a hat when you go out in the sunshine. It will not only protect the delicate skin on your face, it also gives shade to areas often forgotten like the part in your hair and your ears.
2. Use Sunscreen
The American Academy of Dermatology says everyone should apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF)of 30 or higher. You should apply it every day, no matter what time of year it is or whether you plan on lying out in the sun or not. UVA rays can shine through the windows on your car, so you need protection even while driving to work.
You should apply sunscreen about a half an hour before going out into the sun. Many people like to apply it after their shower before they get dressed so they can be sure to get every inch of their skin’s surface.
Don’t forget to reapply after swimming or sweating.
3. Stay Out of the Midday Sun
The sun’s UVB and UVA rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s advisable to try to stay indoors during those times in order to get the maximum skin protection. Some experts even extend those hours to 4 p.m.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are short, ultraviolet wavelengths that are absorbed by the skin and which cause the skin to burn. These rays also affect your skin’s genetic material, which is thought to lead to skin cancer as well as freckling and age spots.
UVA rays are longer than UVB rays but can also do lasting damage. They also cause wrinkles and sagging of the skin.
To avoid cancer and accelerated aging, it’s best to avoid the direct rays of the sun completely.
4. Green Tea and Other Healthy Foods
Skin protection is not only external. The foods and drinks you put in your body can help boost protection and stave off the ill effects of exposure to the elements.
Imbibing lots of water has long been touted as healthy, and its benefits for skin are well known. Staying hydrated helps many of your body’s functions, including cell renewal. Your skin will glow if you drink lots of water every day.
Green tea is another drink that is espoused for helping your skin look and stay protected. Apparently, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the impact of UV rays on the skin and reduce the redness and burning caused by sun exposure.
By reducing inflammation and helping skin to heal, green tea prevents skin cancers from developing. It also contains tannic acid and antioxidants called EGCGs, which have both been found to be beneficial for skin protection.
There are lots of fruits and other foodstuffs that have protective properties for skin. Tumeric, almonds, flax seeds, watermelon, citrus fruits, strawberries, pomegranates, red grapes, carrots and leafy greens all help the skin remain vibrant and young looking.
5. See a Dermatologist Regularly
The best way to protect your skin against melanoma and other forms of skin cancer is to see a dermatologist regularly.
A skin doctor will perform an examination to assess your birthmarks and other skin issues. This can establish a baseline so he or she can watch spots and bumps over time to see if they grow or change.
If anything on the skin appears suspicious, it can be biopsied right away. Skin cancer can be treatable when found in its early stages, so it’s very important to keep an eye on anything on your body that looks unusual.
6. Don’t Use Tanning Beds
Everyone likes to look golden and healthy. That must be why so many people continue to use tanning beds, lamps and booths despite repeated warnings by such organizations as the American Cancer Society.
Statistics show that if you used a tanning bed before you reached age 35, you have already increased your risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years old. Not surprisingly, this is a demographic that tends to be very fond of tanning beds.
In addition to cancer, you also are more likely to experience premature aging, wrinkles, and sunspots from using tanning beds.
7. Try Natural Bronzers
If you want to look tan and glowing, there are many healthier ways to achieve that look than burning your epidermis.
Brush some powdered bronzer on your cheekbones and you will look like you have been out at the beach all day. Or try some of the self-tanning lotions, which moisturize while giving your skin a naturally heightened yet safe color.
You can also get a spray tan. This process gives an all over glow which will last a week or so, without any damaging sun exposure.
Skin Protection: Take Precautions Now to Protect Your Future
We all want to age gracefully, looking as youthful and vibrant as we can. By avoiding the harmful rays of the sun, you can extend your beauty and your life.
By paying attention to skin protection early and often, your face and body will continue to be gorgeous and healthy long into the future.
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