Keeping Healthy: Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

Published 08/08 2013 03:11PM

Updated 08/12 2013 04:34PM

One in three adults use sunscreen. The melanoma rates among young women in the last 40 years have increased 800%. We live in a time where we know the dangers of sun exposure - yet many of us are not protecting ourselves.

“Sun damage is radiation damage. There is no safe dose of radiation,” says Dr. Dubeck, with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. “Your body has repair mechanisms, and there's a limit to how much it can handle at a time, and if that defect gets to the point where that cell divides, before it gets repaired, and now that defect is getting multiplied, and that's a cancer cell."

Damage can be seen in the form of bumps, blisters, and then more seriously in skin cancer- the most deadly being melanoma. Dr. Dubeck says tanning beds are almost as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, And just because we use it every once in a while, doesn't mean we’re not damaging your skin.

“Now with people living longer, that becomes more of an issue,” says Dubeck, “if you were going to die at 50 or 60, and you weren't going to get your melanoma till 70, who cares. Now you're going to live to 90, if you survive your melanoma at 70, unless you take some action now to decrease the risk.”

But with all the gels, creams, lotions, and sprays out there - and different SPF levels - how do you choose? What you want to look for is UVA and UVB protection, a minimum of 15 SPF just for everyday use, but if you plan on being out in the sun for long, at least 30 - and reapply often. Dr. Dubeck says there no excuse for not wearing it.

“The nice thing is we have good synthetic fabric that is lightweight, breathable, and have SPF 100. There's spray-on, there's rapid drying; and for women, there's most makeup with sun protection in them. So it's just good sense."

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