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Dermatology Blog

Preventing Sun Damage To The Skin

Florida residents and visitors enjoy spending time outdoors in the sun appreciating its warmth and light. Excessive sun exposure coupled with unprotected skin can cause significant damage. Ultraviolet radiation in the forms of UV-A and UV-B rays can result in sunburns and long-term skin complications.

Your risk of sun damage you depends on these primary factors:

Length of Time in Sun

Time of Day

Skin Type

Protections in Place

preventive skin care outdoors

Length of Sun Exposure

Genetics, skin type, and environmental factors each play a role in determining your optimal time duration to spend in the sun. As a general rule, the thicker and darker the skin, the longer it takes for the ultraviolet rays to cause harm.

Sun exposure can cause damage rapidly to individuals with fair skin. If you have a fair skin type, the best practice is to apply sunscreen before going outside each day.

Consider the UV Index

For those with skin types that offer more protection, check the UV index in your area for the day and times you plan to be outdoors. If the UV index is in the high or very high range, it is best to go ahead and apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. If it is in the moderate range, you should spend only 20 minutes or fewer without protection. There is a health benefit in receiving some sun exposure, as it has been shown to strengthen bones, improve sleep, and elevate the immune system. Ask your dermatologist about your personal risk factors and best practices to mitigate the risks sun exposure poses.

Sunscreen Protection Essentials

Sunscreen is a key form of protection against harmful rays. The type of sunscreen you select is important. Be sure to use a broadspectrum or fullspectrum sunscreen, which provides both UV-B and UV-A protection. When considering swimming or going to a local splash pad, use a water-resistant product and reapply as needed.

Common Questions About Sunscreen and Sunburns

When can babies safely wear sunscreen?

What is the difference between sun blocks and products that are adsorbed into the skin?

Which ingredients should I look for or avoid in a sunscreen?

Are tanning booths less damaging than the sun’s direct rays?

Do swimsuits with UV protection help reduce exposure?

Which SPF is best in a sunscreen?

When a sunburn has occurred is there anything that can be done to minimize the damage that occurred?

After a sunburn, will abnormal skin growths appear right away?

Does make-up provide protection from the sun’s rays?

At Suncoast Skin Solutions, our dermatology office staff is glad to answer any questions you have. We have a variety of effective sunscreen products available onsite.

Time of the day

Avoid midday sun exposure to the sun if possible. Stay out of the sun or be sure to use sunscreen from the hours of approximately 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this time, the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn are strongest.

Skin Type and Sun Damage Risk

On the basis of complexion, skin types can be divided into four major categories:

*fair skin *light brown skin *brown skin *dark brown or black skin

Fair skin – People with light eye color, hair, and freckles face a very high risk of sun damage. Fair skin does not tan, burns quickly, and has a high tendency to develop melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

Light brown skin – People with light brown skin have a moderate risk of sun damage. They tend to tan well, burn minimally, and have a lower risk of developing melanomas than people with fair skin.

Brown skin – People with predominantly brown eyes and hair have a reduced risk of sun damage. They tan quickly, rarely get sunburns, and present a low risk of sun damage complications.

Dark brown or black skin – People with deeply pigmented skin have the lowest risk of sun damage.

Key Steps to Preventing Sunburn

  • Stay indoors during midday hours (i.e., between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • As a general practice, wear broad or full-spectrum sunscreen or use sun block. Apply sun protection products on your skin daily before going outside.
  • Protect your exposed skin areas with clothing when you are going outside.
  • For eye protection, wear sunglasses that filter UV-A and UV-B rays.

If you notice any symptoms of sunburn or skin changes that concern you, make an appointment with a dermatologist or your primary care physician. If your are initially examined by your primary care doctor, you may be referred to a dermatologist for further consultation. It is a good practice to have your skin thoroughly examined every six months. A full-skin screening from a trusted dermatologist at Suncoast Skin Solutions can help remedy the damage caused by the sun and help prevent the development of more serious complications such as skin cancer.

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