Casper and pasty are just a couple of the names I’ve been called throughout my life. Sometimes I just want to shout, “I get it people, I’m pale!” I probably spend more money on sunscreen in the summer months than I do on hair products ALL YEAR LONG. And if you know me, you know how much I love my hair, so that’s really saying something.
With such fair skin, simply forgetting sunscreen is not an option for me, and it shouldn’t be for you either. No matter what tone of skin you have, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can prove detrimental to the health of your skin, and even your eyes.
We all love that freshly bronzed, “I live at the beach” look. Humans aren’t nocturnal animals, and we do benefit from being outside in the sun. The UV rays from the sun stimulate our bodies to produce Vitamin D which then benefits the nervous, immune, and muscular systems of our bodies. However, we don’t know how much UV exposure the body needs before it starts becoming detrimental.
That being said, there are other ways to insure your body receives the Vitamin D it needs without risking your health. You can choose foods that are rich in the vitamin, such as saltwater fish, juices, dairy products, and egg yolks. By adding these foods to your everyday diet, your body can absorb the Vitamin D it needs without the risks of overexposure to UV rays. If you’re a picky eater like my mother (sorry mom), or you don’t like any of the listed foods, you can simply take a Vitamin D supplement as recommended by your doctor.
Although spending time outside and getting some Vitamin D “the old fashioned way” may be tempting, it can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, eye disease, and even skin cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and perhaps the most preventable too.
Protecting yourself from exposure to UV rays is as simple as wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and covering exposed areas of skin with clothing, hats, or sunglasses. The CDC recommends covering your skin as much as possible and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 thirty minutes before you or your child go outside. And don’t forget to reapply after swimming or strenuous exercise!
If you have questions or would like to know more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from skin cancer, contact our Public Health Nurse Angela Flowers at 304-265-1288 or visit www.CDC.gov/cancer/skin.