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Skincare 365: How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun’s Harmful Rays

The sun’s rays can feel great shining down on us, but we have to be careful to enjoy the warmth without damaging our skin.
3-4 protect skin from sun
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Regardless of what season we are in, there are a few steps that you can take to protect your skin from the sun.

Dangers of Sun Damage

Too much sun exposure can potentially cause severe health problems. The ultraviolet radiation (UV) that comes from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and cataracts. Sun damage can also cause premature aging, wrinkles, lines and dark spots on the skin.

People who are most at risk for sun damage are those who spend more time working or playing outdoors, individuals who sunburn easily, those who have many moles on their skin and anyone who has a family history of skin cancer.  Luckily, most types of skin cancers can be avoided by taking care to limit exposure to dangerous UV rays.  

Protecting Your Skin in Summer

Summers in Alberta are beautiful and sunny. Most people spend a lot more time outside in the summer sun than they do in any other season. The best ways to protect your skin from harmful radiation is to follow these simple recommendations:

  • Wear clothes that cover exposed skin like long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Wide-brimmed hats do a good job at shading your face from the sun as well.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block out both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 on all exposed skin.

It is important to keep an eye on the UV Index, especially during the hottest days of the summer months. The UV Index, which is available on most weather reports or on the Government of Canada’s UV Index website, indicates how much UV radiation is in a certain location. People should take extra precautions on days with high, very high or extremely high UV index ratings. On days with elevated UV Index warnings, consider staying indoors during the sunniest hours of the day, which is usually between 11 am and 3 pm.

Winter Protection is Important, Too

Even though the temperatures are chilly in the winter, it is still possible for your skin to get damaged by the sun. The sun’s rays are reflected by the snow, so you are actually getting exposure from both above and below.

Have you ever wondered why you sunburn more easily while skiing in the Rockies than you do anywhere else? The combination of higher elevations (where more UV rays are reaching the earth) and the reflective nature of snow means that sun damage is much more likely to occur at the top of a ski resort than it is taking a walk on a city sidewalk. Even though it is much easier to cover up during the winter months, you still need to remember to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin and to wear sunglasses.

By taking the right precautions, you can enjoy everything that the outdoors has to offer without risking your health. Cover up, use sunscreen, and enjoy the sunshine safely!

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Didsbury Dental for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.