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Avoid looking like a lobster this Memorial Day!

May 25th, 2012

Memorial dayExposing yourself to the sun can be a boon or a bane to our physical health depending  on the time and duration of your exposure. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D which strengthens our bones and muscles. But it is also the main source of skin cancer. People need between 5-10  minutes daily for a healthy dose of sunlight.

The sun’s short UVB wavelengths cause sunburn and damage our DNA and suppress the skin’s immune system. The longer UVA wavelengths can create highly reactive oxygen molecules that can damage skin cell membranes and our DNA.

On the other hand, UVB wavelengths can also spur metabolic chain reaction that produce vitamin D which is good for our bone health. And having sunlight touch your skin can perk up your mood when you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is developed from lack of sunlight.

The key is to strike a balance between getting some sun but not too much as to cause damage to your skin.  And if you need to stay outdoors for quite some time, protect your skin with sunscreen or sunblock that is at least SPF 15.

Aren’t sunblock and sunscreen the same? Sunblock contain ingredients that block UVB and protect your skin from the sun. The ingredients found in a sunblock are not as strong as those found in sunscreens so this is ideal for people with sensitive skin. However Sunblocks only protect against UVB but not UVA rays. The active ingredients in a sunblock is titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

Sunscreens contain chemicals that protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays . They reflect back UV rays but they allow some to seep through your skin.

Today however most products are a blend of both. Just check the label to make sure there is no ingredient you are allergic to.

For more effective results, apply your sunblock or sunscreen at least 15 minutes before getting under the sun’s rays. Don’t expect them to stay in your skin for a long time. They usually last for about 80 minutes. Re-apply to keep your skin protected.

If you have concerns about skin cancer or other effects of sunburn contact your primary care physician. Keep that skin healthy New York!


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