Summer is upon us. With it, millions of people will spend more time outside, including those all-American beach trips. While it’s great to enjoy the warm weather, it’s important to not forget to use sunscreen.

Yes, that bit of common sense may seem that old-fashioned, but many are forgetting to apply and putting themselves at risk for a host of issues.

Sunburn

Most of us have had sunburn at some point in our lives. You head to the beach and come home that evening looking like a lobster. Sunburn is miserable.

If you’re out in the sun for a very long time, you may run the risk of sun poisoning. This more severe form of sunburn can include fever, nausea, itching, and dehydration.

Sunburn is harmful well past its short-term pain since the damage it does to your skin leads to a greater chance of skin cancer. The worse or more frequent the sunburn, the more long-term damage done to your skin. Using sunscreen goes a long way toward preventing harm today and down the road.

Skin Health/Age

Prolonged exposure to the sun also ages your skin. A 2013 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sunscreen caused a 24 percent drop in skin aging. The four-and-a-half-year study separated the participants into two groups. One group used sunscreen every day, while the other used it “at their discretion.”

Ultraviolet (UV) rays actually account for 80 percent of visible skin aging. One of the ways the sun ages your skin is by adding wrinkles and fine lines. While wrinkles occur naturally, the more exposure to UV rays you have, the earlier wrinkles will appear.

While wrinkles occur naturally, the more exposure to UV rays you have, the earlier wrinkles will appear.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, and the rate is on the rise. One of the prime reasons is because we don’t use enough sunscreen or forget to use sunscreen at all!

Several types of skin cancer relate to sun exposure. Among these are two most common (basal cell and squamous) and melanoma, a more serious type. UV radiation, beyond aging your skin, is the main culprit for skin cancer.

The sun’s UVA rays account for 95 percent of the ultraviolet light we deal with. UVA is responsible for immediate tanning and burning. UVB makes up about 5 percent of the ultraviolet light that makes it to Earth. This type prompts delayed tanning and skin damage.

Sunscreen uses chemicals or minerals (depending on the product) to absorb or block these harmful UV rays. Most sunscreens will protect against both UVA and UVB. These are called broad-spectrum sunscreens. You can learn more about the science behind sunscreen in the Further Reading below.

For something that’s inexpensive, easy to use, and readily available, sunscreen offers many protections.

● ● ●

For something that’s inexpensive, easy to use, and readily available, sunscreen offers many protections. As it stands, there are short, medium, and long-term reasons to use sunscreen frequently. Now, sunscreen up, go out, and enjoy the beautiful summer weather!

Further Reading

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery — 10 Skin Cancer Myths Debunked
LiveScience — How Does Sunscreen Work?
LIVESTRONG — Why Should You Wear Sunblock?
Medicareful Living — When to Visit a Dermatologist
PocketDerm — These 3 photos will convince you to wear sunscreen every day
UnityPoint Health Des Moines — 8 Reasons to Wear Sunscreen this Summer (Infographic)