Soaking in Safe Sun Tips  

By: Alyssa Wismar  

     With the nice, warm weather finally settling in upon us, often everyone’s first instincts are to get outside and start working towards that amazing summer tan that is so popular and desired. However, what is often left to be forgotten is how harmful the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays can really be to the skin. The skin, being the body’s largest and a very vital organ to the body, is extremely important to protect, even if wearing sunscreen and not laying out for hours in hopes to tan isn’t what is exactly popular or trending currently. To ensure that correct and reliable information is being released, The Squire interviewed dermatologist Dr. Wendy Ripple, who works at the AHN Pediatrics Office in Erie, PA to ask questions as to why it is important to protect your skin, and the most efficient ways to do so.  

     What a defining question may be is what exactly are UV rays and how do they exactly harm skin. As gathered from Ripple’s explanation, not all UV rays are bad. There are actually three different types (called UVA, UVB, and UVC), with some being the source of vitamin D that our body needs in order to keep healthy bones and much more. However, as an overview, harmful UV rays can lead to (specifically UVB and UVA), according to Ripple, “…premature aging of the skin, skin cancers, and suppression of our immune system.” Premature aging can include wrinkles and thinning of the skin, making it lose its ability to recoil and return to how it looked prior to the damage. Skin cancers are due to mutations, without going deep into the biology, of cells that are caused by UV rays which end up growing at an alarming rate and causing the fatal disease. And, suppression of the immune system is just that. Like cancer cells, this suppression is also caused by a mutation of cells caused by UV rays which end up having longer-lasting effects than a tan line.  

     As many scars and bruises appear evident on the skin after an incident where it is harmed, there are multiple ways that UV radiation damages can appear on the skin. Some popular examples given by Ripple are, “…sun tan, sunburn - with or without blisters, wrinkles, age (liver spots), freckles, thinned and fragile skin, scaly patches, irregular moles…” While the effects of some may not be visible directly after the damage is done, skin remains a part of the body for a lifetime, and the effects always catch up eventually, which is why it is crucial to keep it safe and healthy.  

     Even though this potentially may seem frightening, The Squire asked for pieces of advice from the professional in order to help make this upcoming summer one that not even the brilliant sun can harm! Ripple advises these tips in order to stay healthy in the summer sun: 

  1. Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours, between 10 am and 2-4 pm. Try to plan outings around these times. Seek shade; stay under umbrellas 
  1. Wear UV protective clothing, if possible.  
  1. Wear hats.  
  1. Wear UV blocking sunglasses – UV radiation can also be harmful to the eyes and can cause cataracts. 
  1. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen (one that protects from UVA and UVB), with SPF 30, 30 minutes before going outside into the sun. Reapply every 2 hours or so once you are in the sun, and sooner if you are sweating a great deal or are in the water. And, make sure to use an appropriate amount of sunscreen – about 1 ounce for one application on the average adult. 
  1. Choose make ups and cosmetic products that have SPF when possible. 
  1. Perform self skin exams regularly and be aware of your moles, etc. Take note of any new or changing skin lesions and consult your doctor regarding these. See your doctor once a year for a skin check.  

     The doctor recommends Blue Lizard sunscreen for optimal protection, but as Ripple said, “brand is not as important as the ingredients and an individual person’s skin type.” Generally, sunscreens that have a SPF of at least 30 are the best for your skin. This level blocks approximately 97% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, which is extremely close, as no sunscreen can protect your skin fully. Ripple advises to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, and to reapply often, as higher SPFs do not mean that they will stay on your skin for a longer period of time than a sunscreen with a lower SPF.  

     The Squire thanks Dr. Ripple for all of her information and advice on UV rays and the most effective ways to protect them. Next time you’re out in the sun, remember to stay safe and covered.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s