Although the sun is an extremely important part of every day life, it also brings substantial dangers.
Sun exposure is necessary for everyone — in limited amounts. It’s the primary source of vitamin D for bodies, which helps to absorb calcium.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology website, there are six different skin types.
Those run the gamut from type one, which is the extremely sun-sensitive skin which burns easily, through type six, which is sun-insensitive skin that never burns.
Depending on which skin type you are determines the type of sunscreen you want to apply regularly.
Dr. Steve Sutter, a dermatologist from Midwest Dermatology Inc., suggests looking for either 40 or 50 SPF sunscreens. Broad-spectrum sunscreens will block both UVA and UVB rays and have that written right on the bottle, he said.
Sunlight gives off two types of harmful rays: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays are the type that cause aging. UVB rays are the type that cause burning.
Excessive amounts of both rays can lead to melanoma, the most common type of cancer of the skin.
“I see skin cancer patients year ’round, not just during the summer,” Sutter said. “The sun damage has been cumulative over the years; most of my skin cancer patients are between 60 and 80 years old.
“My older patients usually had a couple extremely bad sunburns when they were teens and in their 20s and just like bad karma, it comes back to haunt them when they’re older,” he said.
The most common consequence of unprotected sun exposure is sunburn. There is no treatment to normal first-degree sunburns.
However, second-degree burns, which lead to blistering and fevers, need immediate medical treatment.
Sutter said if a sunburn does result from exposure to the sun, cool baths with a tablespoon of baking soda will calm the skin.
Keeping hydrated also is key, he said, because the sun dries out the skin. Refrigerating aloe vera cream or gel and then applying it to the burnt area helps.
Dehydration is another common risk of overexposure to the sun.
The sun can take plenty of energy out of the body, Sutter said. But staying hydrated reduces that outtake. Water is the best drink, but sports drinks such as Gatorade provide electrolytes that are lost through sweat.
For more information about sun safety, visit www.occc.edu/pioneer.