It feels great to have the sun shining down on you in the summer — but those toasty rays can cause serious damage if you don’t take care. Cancer-causing UV rays are strongest during this time of year. Not only do they increase your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers, but they also damage the cells’ DNA, resulting in painful sunburns and blisters. Any family medicine expert will tell you — when the weather heats up, always have a bottle of SPF handy.
Why Sun Damages Your Skin
There are two types of UV rays you should worry about. UVA rays age skin cells and are linked to long-term damage like wrinkles as well as some skin cancers. UVB rays damage skin cell DNA directly and are the primary cause of sunburns and most skin cancers.
Immediate effects of UVB damage can be seen in a reddening of the skin; in extreme cases, this can cause blistering. UVA damage isn’t visible to the naked eye. Just because you don’t get sunburns doesn’t mean the rays aren’t hurting you.
How to Protect Yourself This Summer
Sunscreen with SPF 50 keeps out approximately 98 percent of UV rays. For it to be effective, however, you need to reapply every two hours; and, always lather up again after swimming or sweating. If you aren’t sure what kind of sunscreen to buy, ask your family medicine professional.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, it’s smart to wear sunglasses with UV protection and a hat. Stay out of direct sunlight, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. Be especially vigilant when you’re near water or sand, which can reflect rays and increase exposure.
181st Street Urgent Care Center can help you with your family medicine needs in New York, NY. Serving Washington Heights and Upper Manhattan, they are dedicated to providing accessible and affordable medical care. Learn more about their offering online. If you have any questions, you can call the family medicine providers directly at (347) 756-6000. These bilingual health care providers also have Spanish-speaking staff.