As a truck driver, I would imagine one’s biggest fear would be falling asleep at the wheel or getting in a car accident. I highly doubt any driver takes into consideration the toll it is taking on their skin, but check out this picture to see why sunscreen is important. Even doctors, who see patients every single day, were shocked by this! And I can’t say I blame them. This is science at its finest!
This is Truck driver Bill McElligott. Over a period of 28 years, Bill has been exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) rays through the window of his truck and just like many other truckers, Bill has severely damaged his skin on one side of his face, aging his skin by 20 years.
This stark image is a reminder to us all about the dangers of UV damage and increased risk of skin cancers and why sunscreen is important.
But here’s the thing… We ALL love sunshine.
I am guilty of it too. In fact I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love catching the rays on a beach and getting a nice color from it? It fact it’s actually good for us, it makes us happy, de-stresses us from the grind of everyday life and helps feel more relaxed. Nature feeds on it to grow and the world seems a better place when the sun is shining.
However, we can’t ignore that the beautiful, warm sun that we all love so much is exposing us to UVA and UVB. UVA rays speed up the skin’s aging process and UVB rays causes the burning – OUCH! And when you look at it like that, the sun doesn’t seem so friendly anymore, right? It’s all about moderation.
Now here’s the thing, for every moment you are exposed to the sun without the protection of sunscreen is another moment you may be exposing yourself to severe burning and aging. Sunscreen is important because the sun’s damage impairs the skin’s DNA, leading to pigmentation, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. While many people see tanned skin as beautiful and stylish, tanning is actually your body’s way of protecting itself by increasing its melanin production and shouting:-
“Please, no more sun! I’m burning and need to harden up!”
And we all know what hard skin leads to in the future….yes that’s right, Wrinkles! Pigmentation! And worst, Cancer!
But let’s face it, we are all human and we all forget things from time to time. I’m guilty of this too, but “sunscreen is important” and is really one of those things that we can’t risk forgetting about.
So let’s now take a look at some ways to protect you from the sun and repair some of the damage that already been done, it would be great if we could turn back the clock right?
Protection from the Sun and Repairing Sun Damage.
Sunscreen is important, so get in to the habit of wearing sunscreen every day; remembering to reapply if you go into water or workout.
- Don’t take risks, if you have concern about how your skin looks and feels seek medical attention.
- Sounds obvious, but limiting sun exposure is essential. Men in particular should wear hats.
- Protect yourself from the sun with an umbrella or wear ultraviolet clothing for extra defence (popular in South East Asia where Oriental women look far younger than their age!)
- Using high retinol skin products can help repair the skin from sun damage by repairing collagen and elastin deep within the skin.
- I recommend superficial peels on a monthly basis to remove the layers of the sun damaged skin (this is recommended by dermatologist in USA to prevent skin cancer).
What is it and why we need to know the facts about Melanoma.
So we‘ve talked about protection but the reason why we need it so much is to protect YOU from a horrible fact called skin cancer.
A particular kind of skin cancer associated with over exposure to the sun is Melanoma. While it is less common than most cancers, if it’s not caught early enough it will spread quickly.
The sad truth is no one is entirely risk free from getting melanoma; however the risks are higher in places where there is year round sunshine and as with all cancers the chances of developing a melanoma increase as a person gets older.
The GOOD NEWS is, if found early; melanoma can be treated successfully.
So let us now take a look at some facts about melanoma and what you should be look for when you “check your skin”.
- A new growth or a change in size, shape or colour of a spot/mole on your skin that develops over the course of a month or more.
- Asymmetry: does one half of the spot not match the other?
- Border Irregularity – most moles will be round or oval, but the borders of a melanoma may be uneven.
- Colour – most moles are one colour, but melanoma may have several colours.
- Size – the diameter of a mole is usually ¼ inch across but a melanoma could be larger.
How to Check Your Skin – Know the facts about Melanoma and check YOUR skin OFTEN.
You should check your skin at least once a month. Use a full length mirror or a small held mirror to check moles, spots and blemishes from the top of your head all the way down to your toes.
- Check your face, ears, neck, chest and belly. Then use a comb to part your hair and check your scalp.
- Check under your arms, both sides of your arms and your palms.
- Sit down and check your thighs, your shins and the top of your feet, in between your toes and your toenails.
- Look at the soles of your feet, your calves and use a small mirror to check the backs of your thighs.
- Use the mirror to check your buttocks, genitals, lower and upper back and the back of your neck.
The more you check your skin, the more familiar you will be of your body, if you spot anything different, contact your doctor, dermatologist or other health care professional.
Sunscreen is Important so you NEED to Choose Wisely!
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the protection against UVB provided by a sunscreen; however sunscreen protection requires you to apply sunscreen correctly and sensibly.
If you plan to be in and out of water, you should consider a water resistant sunscreen – however be mindful that they will only protect you for about 40-80 minutes so you will need to reapply.
You may be tempted to use spray sunscreens for ease of application but be mindful that you can’t always tell how much protection they are providing you with
So now you know the risks of the sun and you know what changes to look out for in your skin, let me now tell you about two of my absolute favourite sunscreens that can help protect you in the sun.
- Love Heliocare 50+ – Great for Oily/Combination and breakout prone skin.
- ZO Skin Health Sunscreen – Sunscreen and Primer in one, perfect for flawless looking skin.
I love these sunscreens! In fact, many of my patients do. You can easily pop by the clinic or call 0207 706 1997 to get your bottle.
It’s REALLY important that you and your family can enjoy the sun without worrying about the consequences – So stay safe, check your skin often, stay beautiful and remember sunscreen is important!
Be sure to leave me any skin care questions you have in the comments section below.