You can’t avoid the sun, of course. You can avoid sunburn.
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Which is a pretty good idea, considering that damage from sunburn can last a lifetime. Dermatologist Jennifer Lucas, MD, says sunburns have a cumulative effect on our bodies.
‘Insults’ to our skin and our DNA
“Each burn you get you are putting yourself more at risk down the road of development of skin cancer,” says Dr. Lucas. “Aging, wrinkles — all the changes we don’t like on our skin can come from sunburn.”
Prolonged sun exposure weakens your skin’s support system, which is why people who spend a lot of time in the sun look older at a younger age.
Exposure not only causes premature aging, it also damages DNA, which increases our cancer risk.
“You’re causing damage inside the actual DNA of the cells themselves. In their genetic makeup you’re causing ‘insults.’ If you continue to expose it to more of the radiation or the sun’s rays, you’re causing more damage,” says Dr. Lucas.
Best practices in protection start early
Dr. Lucas says about half of the sun exposure we get in a lifetime occurs before the age of 18. That’s why it’s important to teach our kids early on safe practices in protecting themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.
If you’re at the beach or a pool, teach your kids to:
- Put on a golf ball-size amount of sunscreen
- Reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes without fail
- Try to avoid the direct rays of the sun around the noon hour
- Seek shade when they can
“Do the things you and your kids need to do now, to protect against developing skin cancer down the road,” Dr. Lucas says.