Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It reflects our health and age. Today, there’s much concern about sunbathing leading to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer.
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time, our skin becomes wrinkled, cracked, aged, and brittle. For smokers, the effects are multiplied. Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with overexposure and serious sunburns during childhood.
We can’t live without the sun. Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D needed for calcium absorption, among other things. So, we shouldn’t hide from our shining star. Here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the sun this summer.
Time is key - Avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from about 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. If you are a bit Vitamin D deficient, this would be a good time (before 11:00am or after 4:00pm) to spend some time outside for 20 minutes with minimal sunscreen so your body can make enough Vitamin D.
Gear up - Wear a hat with a wide brim, t-shirt, and sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays.
Drink up - By keeping your body hydrated you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking, and aging. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day- more if your are sweating a lot or very active!
Pop a pill - Vitamins such as A, E, and some antioxidants (such as those found in green tea) help prevent skin damage from the inside. Cod liver oil and Flaxseed oil have also been used to support skin health.
Brush it off - Before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently.
Keep healthy - Some medications we take may have reactions and side effects when we’re exposed to sunlight. Acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy in a safe and natural way.
If you want to enjoy the sun this summer season and not worry later, practice good sun sense now. You and your skin deserve it!