Safety reminders this Summer Sun Safety Month

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:44 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY Va. (WHSV) - The month of August is “Summer Sun Safety Month” which encourages people to enjoy summer but also make sure you’re taking the proper precautions.

We all know getting a sunburn is no fun and it can lead to skin cancer later in life. However, regardless if you get sunburned or not, the sun still does damage to your skin.

“We know about the sun and what it causes on the skin. It definitely leads to a lot of the signs that we think of as aging. A lot of the changes we think of as simply aging but it’s actually from the sun,” said Jerri Alexiou, a physician at Harrisonburg Dermatology.

Alexiou said the sun causes about 90% of the aging of our skin with the other 10% coming from the elapsed time. Over time, the sun causes wrinkles and makes your skin thinner, leading to bruising much easier.

Alexiou said sunburns cause the most damage from the sun to your skin, allowing it to age faster and develop a greater risk for skin cancer.

Many of us like to tan when it gets warmer out. This does its damage too, but not at the level sunburns do. Tanning is a key factor in skin aging.

“Really what you should do is keep your skin from changing color at all, so if you can keep it the same color all year long without being tan, without being burned, you can really improve the health of your skin and lower your skin cancer risk,” said Alexiou.

Alexiou also said that if you plan on spending a long time in the sun, make sure you wear SPF 30 sunscreen or higher. Re-apply if you spend more than 2 hours outside at the sun’s strongest points. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Even if the sunscreen says it’s waterproof, Alexiou suggests to re-apply after being in the water.

If you begin to notice an open sore that doesn’t heal or any moles on your skin start changing in size and color, those can be signs of skin cancer.

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