If you’re like many Texans, summertime draws up thoughts of sunshine, vacation, and balmy beach visits. But along with these positives, summer sunshine can really rev up the risks for skin damage. As temperatures rise, so too should your efforts to protect your skin.
At Northstar Dermatology in Fort Worth, Texas, our expert team offers effective sun damage treatments to improve the health and look of your skin. Here, in honor of Summer Sun Safety Month, we explore sun damage and ways to avoid it.
Ways the sun damages your skin
The sun produces UV rays that can damage your skin in numerous ways. The type known as UVA rays damages your skin’s surface, causing sunburn. UVA rays radiate deeper into your skin, making way for cellular damage that affects skin cell growth and appearance.
Sun damage from these rays is associated with short- and long-term complications, including:
- Discolored, dryer, and more wrinkled skin
- Skin cancer, including basal and squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma
While sunburns happen very quickly, changes in your skin’s appearance as well as skin cancer signs develop more gradually.
Protecting your skin from sun damage
The most effective way to avoid sun damage is to avoid sun exposure altogether, but that’s not realistic or ideal for most people. In fact, modest amounts of sunlight allow your body to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
To protect your skin from sun damage, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. While this is important all year long, it’s especially vital during hot summer months. Meanwhile, aim to avoid the sun when its rays are the strongest, usually between 10am and 3pm.
Additional ways to stave off sun damage include:
- Making sure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher
- Reapplying sunscreen every two hours outdoors or after swimming or sweating
- Wearing sun-protective clothing, as well as a wide-brimmed hat
- Wearing sunglasses that filter out UV rays
How dermatologists can help
Once you’ve experienced sun damage to your skin, we can help by recommending treatment based on your specific needs and symptoms. If you’re bothered by aesthetic issues, such as sun spots, we may suggest a chemical peel, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, laser treatment, or medication.
If you have an unusual mole, we can test it for skin cancer. If a biopsy shows that you have precancerous or cancerous cells, we can remove it using a tissue-sparing technique, such as Mohs micrographic surgery. Severe cases may require chemotherapy or radiation.
Most skin cancers are highly treatable early on, so routine skin cancer screenings are important.