The summer equinox, also known as the longest day of the year, was June 20, and the rest of summer is looking pretty bright. With the sun shining that much, most people will be applying more sunscreen than usual. But here at AFC Urgent Care, we know that you need just as much sunscreen on cloudy days and during the winter as you do now. Sun damage can sneak up on your skin if you’re not careful, so here are five reasons you should be wearing sunscreen every day.
- Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin, even on cloudy days. Thanks to the popularity of tanning and the slow depletion of the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer, skin cancer rates have more than tripled since 1975. To keep yourself safe, you need to be protected from the sun’s rays every day, even on the days the sun is hidden by clouds. If it’s light outside, that means UV rays are getting through and hitting your skin. If you don’t wear sunscreen every day, the UV damage from those seemingly safe days can add up and hurt your skin cells.
- Sunscreen prevents premature aging! UV rays cause wrinkles and sagging skin by damaging the collagen fibers that give your skin its elasticity. Doctors agree that sun damage can contribute up to 80 percent of skin aging, more than smoking, inadequate sleep and dehydration.
- Sunscreen can prevent permanent discoloration. In addition to causing premature aging, sun exposure can also cause unsightly brown spots, white spots, mottled or ruddy skin and discoloration. This is due to uneven melanin production stimulated by sun exposure and to the stretching of blood vessels in the face. This discoloration leads to an overall appearance of older or rougher skin.
- It only takes one sunburn every two years to increase your skin cancer risk. That doesn’t seem like much, and that’s because sunburns are different from heat burns. While a heat burn will only kill skin cells, a sunburn will cause mutations in skin cells beneath the surface, which can lead to the growth of a cancer. It only takes one, especially if you have fair skin or a family history of skin cancer.
- Your body’s need for vitamin D is probably not high enough to justify not wearing sunscreen. Most people can get all the vitamin D they need by spending about 15 minutes a day in sunlight, and this can happen without you even realizing it. Resting your arm in the sun during your commute or taking a quick walk during your lunch break can easily help you meet the 15mcg of vitamin D your body needs a day.
The sun is one of the best parts of summer, but we need to know how to be safe while we’re enjoying it. Make wearing sunscreen every day a habit now, and then when summer ends, you won’t even have to think about keeping it going. If you have questions about your risk of skin cancer, visit your local AFC Urgent Care to talk it out with one of our physicians!