The Shocking Effects of the Sun on the Skin

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Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

I have a friend who used to care for the elderly. One of her duties was to help them bathe. She was surprised to find that the face, neck and chest were wrinkled but the rest of the skin was smooth and wrinkle-free. The skin that had been exposed the most to the sun was damaged.

This photograph does a great job of showing the effects of the sun on the skin. This man drove a truck for 28 years. The left side of his face was exposed to the sun, the right was not. Incredible, isn't it?!

It's certain motivation to protect the skin from the sun!

There are several ways to go about it:

1) Wear sunscreen

2) Wear a hat and cover your skin

3) Avoid the sun when it's strongest - 12pm to 4pm

4) Feel the sun on your skin, if it feels like it's burning, it is

It's helpful to know a few facts about sunscreen:

One would assume that a SPF50 sunscreen offers about double the protection of SPF30. And that SPF100 offers double the protection of SPF50.

But this is not the case:


There are two types of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that effect our skin:

(1) UVA

- UVA rays age the skin causing wrinkles and age spots and can pass through glass

(2) UVB

- UVB rays cause sunburns (B for burn!) and are blocked by window glass - SPF stands for sun protection factor and refers to the ability of sunscreen to protect against UVB rays

Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer.

Make sure your sunscreen is "broad spectrum" to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Be mindful: A sunscreen label might claim "Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection" but unless you see the active ingredient Avobenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide , you are not being protected from UVA rays.

Lay it on thick!


What about the eyes?

I noticed I have little yellow-ish spots on the whites of my eyes. I asked my eye doctor about them and she said they're sun damage. Apparently not only can the sun cause discoloration of the whites of the eyes but it can also cause more serious damage like cataracts and cancer. (source: So also make sure you wear UVB protective sunglasses

Enjoy the sun knowing that your skin and eyes are protected.

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