Save Yourself From the Sun this Summer

Olivia Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

As spring dwindles down to a close and summer now on the rise, people are beginning to go outside more and more. Spending time in the sun is quite popular for this time of year, an activity many people take part in. The sun affects you with almost anything and everything you do. While most people enjoy being in the sun, many people don’t take the proper precautions necessary to do so. In the United States alone, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and 1 out of every 5 people develop some form of skin cancer within their lifetime. Though many people know the consequences that can come with exposure to the sun, do they know how at risk they really are?

Despite what many may think, one does not obtain any skin conditions from the sun, exactly. Rather, there are what are called Ultraviolet (UV) rays. These can be known as electromagnetic radiation that are present in light consisting of 10% total output light of the sun. In addition, there are two main ways that can cause damage to skin or skin cancer. These rays are known as UVB rays, which are responsible for the majority of sunburns people develop. There are also UVA rays, which can penetrate deep inside the skin, causing for it to age faster. However, in comparison to the UVB rays, they are known to cause much less sunburn. There is also a third type of ray known as the UVC ray. This ray specifically can be known as the most dangerous of all. Though it is dangerous, it is blocked by the ozone and does not reach the earth’s surface.

In contrast to what many people think, UV rays cannot be felt. Even on cloudy days when the sun isn’t out, these rays can still affect you. Studies say that 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds, thus leaving many sunburned. This statistic is the reason why many experience sun poisoning or serious burns after days spent outside with no form of protection.

Sun exposure extend to damage beyond the discomfort of a sunburn. A very common form of skin cancer that currently affects the lives of more than 1 million Americans, is Melanoma. Melanoma occurs when cells that give pigment or color to the skin, become cancerous. Symptoms that coincide with this condition can be unusual growth or change in existing moles which can occur anywhere on the body. Depending on the degree, some cases can require treatment such as medications, radiations or even chemotherapy. In the years 1982-2011, the rates of Melanoma in the US doubled and have shown to affect those mostly ages 40 and up. Despite the statistics, it can develop earlier for many who do not seek proper precautions.

Despite what companies may say or advertise, tanning beds are horrible for your skin and for your body. The direct exposure to UV rays in indoor tanning facilities produces wrinkles, brown spots, lax skin or “loose skin” and melanoma. Statistics show approximately 7.8 million women use the indoor beds while 1.9 million adult men do so as well. The comparison is overwhelming, but the numbers are still all too high. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, using tanning beds before the age of 35 can increase one’s chances of melanoma by 59 percent, and increase even more after each use. Those who use the beds younger than age 30 are six times more likely to develop skin cancer. Do your best to stay away from these beds or your risks will only increase rapidly.

Due to there being so many consequences to improper sun exposure, there are various things people can do to avoid these instances. Some “remedies” can consist of seeking shade, or at least majority, between 10AM and 4PM when the sun is at its hottest. Always avoid any kind of tanning beds; whether they are UV beds or regular, they still cause irreparable damage. Wearing protection such as sunscreen is important to prevent sunburns as best as possible. Although this may seem obvious, many people do not always do so. Even if the weather seems overcast, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A common and very helpful strategy to stay updated, is to examine yourself head to toe, monthly or more so often. This simple task can help make a huge difference between noticing any changes sooner rather than later.

As you can see, the possibilities of sun exposure are endless. Of course, one cannot avoid the sun forever and that should never be the case. Enjoying the warm weather is very good for you and it’s something everyone should take advantage of. As long as you’re being smart about your choices, you and your body will forever be grateful. Don’t do yourself the damage by becoming another statistic. Instead, soak in the and sun safely and enjoy the summer while it lasts!