Let The Sun Shine In – With Care
There is a lot to celebrate about the sun’s glorious rays, as we in this City of Angeles know well. However, all those basking in its light should take precautions against the danger of the ultraviolet rays within it.
By Amy Sommer | July 22, 2013
The beautiful golden yellow of the sun for which we in Southern California are known, is glorious but … the three types of ultraviolet light within it UVA, UVB and UVC rays are a danger to our skin even as they lift our spirits. While UVC rays, the most dangerous, do not pass through the earth’s protective Ozone layer, UVA rays do so effortlessly and some UVB rays do as well. This UVA, UVB punch can cause wrinkles, sunburns and skin cancers. But never fear there are protections here.
The body’s first line of defense, melanin, is more plentiful in people with darker skin than those of us who are pasty. Regardless of how much of this substance is found in one’s skin, all shades of human cannot rely on this chemical, which reacts to the damage that UVB rays by darkening our skin. And while a tan is often associated with health, it is in fact a sign that the body is protecting itself against the sun that caused it.
While most of us remember to slather sunscreen on our children and ourselves when at the beach, most sun damage occurs incidentally when we’re gardening, playing with the children in the backyard or simply working through our ‘To Do’ lists. In our household, no one is ever fully dressed without sunscreen – smiles are optional. No matter what the weather, everyone must apply a wife/ mom approved amount of sunscreen on all exposed skin. Yes, even in the rain.
As dermatologist Karyn Grossman, Chief of said division at St John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, “even on cloudy, cool or overcast days, UV rays travel through the clouds and reflect off sand, water and even concrete. Clouds and pollution don’t filter out UV rays, and can give a false sense of protection,” I quote Dr. Grossman whenever a tyke or spouse tries to outrun my tube of high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen and me.
“Often, kids are unaware that they’re developing a sunburn on cooler or windy days because the temperature and/or breeze keeps the skin feeling cool on the surface,” says the Board Certified Dermatologist who has practiced in New York and Santa Monica since 1995
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all kids, regardless of their hue, wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 as darker skinned children can develop painful sunburns just like their fairer friends and family.
Sun can damage our eyes as well which is why we have a basket of cheap, plastic sunglasses from which my children can choose at will as we rush out the door. All of these glasses have a label guaranteeing 100% UV protection. Shades without this promise merely trick the eye into a false sense of safety, as they do not have special UV filters to protect the retina from sun’s damage so provide only comfort without protection.
Even the most vigilant sun-phobic souls amongst us can slip – yes, I have had sunburns as have my children and husband. Naturally, I react with rage and self-flagellation. But once I calm down, and remind myself that perfection remains in fact and ideal, I try to remind the sun burned person who is likely hot, possibly dealing with chills and in pain not to scratch their dehydrated skin as the layer underneath is vulnerable to infection. Skin usually begins to peel about a week after the sunburn so I stay ever vigilante about leaving the burned skin as is and continue to slather Aloe Vera and moisturizer on it – when not doing the same with sunscreen.
So slather those you love, regardless of their skin tone and enjoy a summer of damage free sun.
For more information: http://www.grossmandermatology.com
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