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2009 Press Releases

Experts Offer Sun Safety Tips to Protect the Skin You’re In

While a tan might look nice now, it is actually the first stage of skin damage. Experts suggest exposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays could wreak havoc on your appearance later.

According to Sharon Scherl, MD, FAAD, Chief of Dermatology at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, you become tan because the ultraviolet light causes the body to stimulate pigment production that gives your skin additional color.  However, that pigment production is actually a sign of sun damage.

“There is no such thing as a safe tan,” says Dr. Scherl. “The only way to protect yourself from the sun is to use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, whether you’re in the sun or not.  If you’re in the direct sun, you’ll need to apply at least one ounce – about a shot glass full – every two hours to protect yourself.”

While studies have shown that the sun provides us with vitamin D and can help lessen symptoms of depression, there are risky long-term health implications of unprotected sunlight exposure. Besides the immediate effect of sunburn, long term exposure to excess UV radiation may cause skin cancer, eye damage, immune system suppression, and premature aging.  Each year, more than a million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, and millions more experience brown sun spots, deep wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging.

“Most skin damage from the sun actually happens in the earlier years of life, and it’s that cumulative damage that can cause skin problems,” adds Dr. Scherl.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, infants and children are especially sensitive to the sun, and protecting their skin is vital.  Approximately 23 percent of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. Just one or two blistering sunburns in childhood may double the risk of developing melanoma. To protect yourself and your family this summer and year-round, the Skin Cancer Foundation offers the following guidelines:

Seek the shade, especially during the sun's peak hours (10:00am-4:00pm).

Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Sun damage occurs even on cloudy days.

Cover up with clothing, especially a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.  Use long sleeve rash guards with a high SPF rating if you are on the beach or in the water.

Avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements.

Keep newborns out of the sun.  Sunscreens can be used on babies over the age of six months. Check with your doctor to be sure.

Teach children good sun-protective practices to help reduce the risk of future health problems.

Examine your skin from head to toe once every month.

Have a professional medical examination annually.

Avoid tanning and especially do not burn! One blistering sunburn may double your risk of melanoma.

For a referral to a dermatologist at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, visit the Find a Physician section of www.englewoodhospital.com or call 866.980.EHMC (3462).  For more information on sun safety, check out www.skincancer.org.