Our skin is the largest organ on our bodies and it happens to be the hardest working.
After reading that last statement, you might think I have lost my mind because the heart has got to be the hardest working organ, but think about it. Our hearts are on the inside of the body and protected by the muscles and bones of the rib cage. Yes, the heart is in constant motion, but that is easy. The heart is made to pump, it just happens.
Our skin is on the outside of our bodies and is exposed to every extreme there is. Its sole purpose is to provide protection to the internal organs of the body, as well as regulate the body’s temperature, heal wounds and make sure no foreign items get into the body.
Given all the things that the skin does for us, we should be thanking it regularly and doing every thing that we can to protect it and make sure that it’s healthy.
But the sad truth is that we don’t, especially when it comes to the sun. The rays (Ultra Violet) of the sun are very harmful to the skin and can cause cancer.
The sun actually produces three different types of rays that are damaging to the skin:
- UVA rays cause skin aging and wrinkling and contribute to skin cancer, such as melanoma.
- UVB rays are also dangerous, causing sunburns, and effects on the immune system. They also contribute to skin cancer. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is thought to be associated with severe UVB sunburns that occur before the age of 20.
- UVC rays are the most dangerous, but fortunately, these rays are blocked by the ozone layer and don’t reach the earth.
The good news is there is something that can be done to protect our skin from the sun.
Along with seeking shade whenever possible and covering up, sunscreen, when applied regularly and as directed, is a great defense against these damaging rays.
It is important to apply sunscreen whenever you or your kids are going to be outside. Here are a few tips that you’ll want to remember this summer to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.
- Sunscreen needs to be replied about every 2 hours for the full guaranteed protection from the sun’s rays, which can cause skin cancer.
- According to the American Academy of Dermatology, both adults and children should use a sunscreen with at least a SPF rating of 30.
- It is recommended that babies younger than 6 months be kept out of the sun. Sunscreen alone will not protect a baby that young.
- When buying a sunscreen, look for one with ‘broad spectrum’ on the label. This will ensure protection from all the dangerous rays of the sun.
- Apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before going outside. According to the new guidelines from the FDA, there is no such thing as a water proof or sweat proof sunscreen. If you get wet, reapply.
- The average person needs about 1 ounce (one shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover their skin. Most people actually use only a quarter of this amount, so use it generously.
Even if you are following all of the rules and applying sunscreen, you are only human and a sunburn may still happen. So now what?
What should do you if you or your child gets a sunburn?
Sunburn is the reddening and burning of the skin that occurs with unprotected, over exposure to the sun.
Sunburn is a temporary irritation but is can cause long term damage to the skin and increase a person’s risk of getting skin cancer, so it is best to avoid it.
If a sunburn does happen, here are suggestions you can do to ease the pain and burning of a minor sunburn:
- Apply a cool cloth to burning areas or take a cool shower
- Apply a soothing lotion that contains aloe vera. Try placing it in the fridge for a couple of minutes for more of a cooling effect.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Rest in a cool dark place
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed
- Do not use over-the-counter pain relieving products containing benzocaine on sun-burned skin. (These are called topical anesthetics.) They can often make the pain worse, and some people are allergic to the ingredient.
If you or your child gets a sunburn, and are feeling well, active, playful, and do not have any blisters, then the above tips will help make you feel better. However, if you or your child feels or looks ill, spikes a fever, or has blisters, then seek medical attention.
I know that personally, I am pretty good at making sure the members of my family are covered in sunscreen, but I often times I forget myself.
This summer, I am going to try harder at making sure all of us are covered!