Fry Now, Pay Later
Taking care of your skin in the hot summer months.
I am the biggest fan of summer heat, or any heat! I love the sun in ways most do not. On 90 degree days I am out when the sun is highest in the sky and come September I am bronze beyond recognition. “The sun on your skin” is a popular, romanticized expression at this point. Tanning makes its fad comebacks ever so often. Generally, basking in the sun is a wonderful feeling. And I’m sure we all live for the impending beach and boardwalk days. But what happens? The sun after all isn’t simply a light in the sky, or a big ball of gas. It’s a UV laser beam that torches us every day! With recent environmental issues, even more than ever before we’re sensitive to the suns magnificence. There is such a thing as safe sun exposure, and the dose of vitamin D does us all good. Sunlight improves moods, and gets your energy levels up too! On the other hand, the sun can be like holding an open flame to your skin. There are layers to the skin and the effects can be catastrophic! Let’s take a look!
The skin has 5 layers in all, UVA rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin (epidermis) reaching the deepest layers (dermis), where several cellular structures will be affected. UVB rays are shorter and more harmful than UVA rays, although the latter reach more depth (dermis).
– Epidermis: (the layer we see every day) is affected by UVB rays, being the main cause of Sun burns and DNA damage, increasing the risk of cancer. Over time, the UV rays can damage the elastin in our skin. Just under the epidermis, is elastin: highly elastic protein that helps our skin snap back so to speak after stretching and contracting (like when we smile). Elastin works in tandem with collagen which is spread throughout the body providing strength and flexibility.
– Dermis: the deep layer of the skin where the UVA rays reach, penetrating the epidermis. Due to these rays, the structure of the dermis is influenced, affecting the collagen, which is responsible for the maintenance of a young skin. Thus, this will cause a lack of elasticity in the skin creating visibility of wrinkles. The more time spent in the sun, the more wrinkly and leathery you’ll become!
Life comes with exposure to a number of elements invisible and visible to us and they all affect us in adverse ways. So wrinkles and calluses and crow’s feet are just a part of the game. Above all, when dealing with the sun, our greatest concern and most dangerous risk is skin cancer.
There are 3 major types of skin cancer: Basal cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the easiest to treat and least likely to spread. It looks like a “pearly waxy bump” or it might be a “flat brown lesion”. Squamous cell carcinoma can be treated easily if it is acted upon in its earliest stages and is characterized by a “firm red pimple or nodule that won’t go away, and might be covered in a scaly patch”. The two types mentioned are commonly mistaken for blemishes or bites so it’s always best to have it looked at! Melanoma is the most aggressive and serious form of cancer. Characterized by “moles that bleed, itch or change shape and color” it’s easy to spot and may also have red or white speckles. While there is no known number or times of exposure it takes to develop these cancers, a study by brown university suggest that 5 serious sun burns increases the chance of a melanoma diagnosis by 80%. The life expectancy once diagnosed with melanoma is 5 years! Tanning beds only double these chances.
Let’s protect ourselves! While there is no cure for skin cancer, we can take preventative measures so we don’t fry now and end up paying later! Good Housekeeping recommends a number of great sunblock products that help prevent sunburn, which will lower your chances of developing skin cancer! This will also help protect the collagen and elastin in our skin.
Now that you're informed on how protect your most precious asset - YOUR SKIN, we expect that you’ll make good choices to take care of it. Don’t forget massage is impossible to enjoy with sunburn! Have a happy, safe, fun summer and take care of what takes care of you.
Text by Kimber Erskine, Robin Ehrlich