We all want to look and feel our best. Getting outside and enjoying the weather is one way to ensure we get our daily dose of vitamin D. For people with fair skin, as little as fifteen (15) minutes per day in the sun can provide all the UV exposure and vitamin D you can need for the day.

If you live in a subtropical climate, you know that avoiding the sun can be a little difficult. But protecting your skin from the effects of UV damage is important if you want to retain a healthy, youthful appearance and reduce health risks from melanoma and the signs of premature aging from sun exposure. Our staff at Bloom MedSpa certainly has experience with these issues, given the fact that we are located in Tampa Florida and deal with the sun ourselves every day.

How Does the Sun Damage Our Skin?

Using sunscreen daily has been proven to reduce skin damage and offer protection against skin cancer. But many people do not know the difference between the different types of sun exposure and the difference between UVC and UVB rays.

The atmosphere of the earth absorbs UVC waves from the sun. There are three general types of UVC wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC. All types of UV exposure pose health risks and premature aging when our skin is not protected properly from the sun’s radiation.

Type A Ultraviolet (UVA)

The UVA rays from the sun are the most damaging to the skin. Type A Ultraviolet radiation has longer waves penetrating the body. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to genetic mutations that are a precursor to skin cancer and premature aging.

Because UVA rays are longer than other types of solar radiation, the damage goes well below the surface (epidermis) to the deep dermis levels of your skin. Collagen and elastin fibers are affected, which reduces tightness and elasticity. Capillaries (blood vessels) are also damaged, which causes dilation that can develop into rosacea (visible red patches).

Type B Ultraviolet (UVB)

Radiation damage from UVB rays causes sunburns and can also lead to the thickening of the outer layer of skin (dermis). When this happens, the visible layer of your skin can also become darker. Melanoma and other types of skin cancer can also be caused by UVB exposure.

About 5% of the sun’s rays that reach the earth are UVB. However, UVB rays cannot penetrate through windows like UVA radiation can. Some types of tanning beds are promoted as “safer” because they are engineered for more UVB than UVA rays, but Type B Ultraviolet rays may still contribute to skin cancer.

Type C Ultraviolet (UVC)

Exposure to Type C Ultraviolet radiation (UVC) is the least harmful of the three concerning health risks and skin damage. In clinical settings, UVC light is often used to disinfect equipment as it has a germicidal effect on bacteria and viruses.

Humans can be exposed to UVC radiation in the workplace, as it is often used to treat air filtration systems for indoor environments. If you disinfect your smartphone, the technology you are using is UVC light to sanitize your device.

While UVC is unlikely to cause long-term damage to your skin, it can result in moderate to severe eye damage.

Other Sources of UV Damage 

Exposure to harmful UV radiation can also occur from other sources. Tanning beds expose skin to concentrated levels of UV that pose significant health risks. states that one indoor tanning bed session (before the age of thirty-five) can increase your risk of developing skin cancer by as much as 75%.

Some types of lasers (from medical to lights at entertainment venues) can also expose your skin to harmful UV radiation. And indoor lighting, including some halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, and mercury vapor lighting, can also cause skin damage.

How Long Should You Stay In The Sun?

Most sunburns happen by accident. Even on an overcast day when you can’t see the sun directly, your body is still absorbing radiation from the sun. And we are all more prone to putting on sunscreen and limiting our time on a hot day. This is why most of the skin damage we sustain from UV rays happens when we least expect it.

Americans living in southern regions are exposed to a higher than average UV index compared to other parts of the country. People who live in higher altitudes like Colorado and Utah are also exposed to higher-than-average UV conditions.

How do you determine the right amount of skin protection and safe time you can spend in the sun? Use this guide to help.

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UV Rating Risk Level Minutes to Burn* Protection Required
0-2 Minimal 60 Minutes  UV Sunglasses and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen 
2-4 Low 45 Minutes UV Sunglasses and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
4-6 Moderate 30 Minutes UV Sunglasses, Hat and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
6-10 High 15 Minutes UV Sunglasses, Hat, Sun Umbrella and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
10-15 Extreme 10 Minutes UV Sunglasses, Hat, Sun Umbrella and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

*Individuals with fair to very light skin tones may sustain a burn more quickly. Patients taking certain prescription medications may also have a higher risk of sustaining a sunburn with minimal exposure.

If you are taking a new prescription medication, read the label. Some types of contraceptives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can cause photosensitivity. A condition that makes your skin more susceptible to sun damage and burning.

Five Ways to Protect Your Skin From UV Damage

If you want to preserve a youthful appearance and reduce the development of fine lines and wrinkles, protecting your skin should be a daily priority. It is important to reduce the time you spend exposed to the sun, as UV rays are one of the leading factors contributing to premature aging.

Protecting your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It is just a matter of putting some good habits into daily practice. Here are five easy ways you can reduce UV damage and keep your skin looking youthful and vibrant.

1. Drink More Water Every Day 

Being well-hydrated is essential to maintaining a healthy body and immune system. But did you know that when you are properly hydrated, it also helps protect your skin? Hydration promotes skin healing and can reduce scarring. If your skin appears to have begun to show wrinkles, you may want to consider Botox as a potential treatment option.  And it also helps reduce the development of lines and wrinkles.

2. Upgrade Your Sunscreen and Apply Daily

The best way to protect your skin when you go outside is to make sunscreen a daily practice. Not just something you apply when heading to the pool or beach. Dermatologists recommend a light daytime facial sunscreen (which can be applied under cosmetics) to protect your face. And an all-over body sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50.

When choosing the right sunscreen, you get what you pay for. Economical sunscreens can provide less protection (read the label) and contain other chemicals that can dry your skin. And contribute to sun damage on your face and body.

3. Avoid Hot Baths and Showers

Did you know that when you take a long hot bath or shower, you are actively dehydrating your skin? Hot temperatures evaporate the natural oils in your skin. And when you add harsh soaps or cleansers to the mix, it can create dry and brittle skin that is more susceptible to UV damage from the sun.

4. Balance Your Diet With Healthy Fats

Whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables are essential to providing your body with the nutrients it needs for healthy and resilient skin. Choose healthy fats such as avocadoes or fish high in omega fatty acids to nourish youthful skin from within. And if you are not getting enough nutrients from your daily diet, talk to your doctor about nutritional supplements.

5. Manage Your Stress

A report called “Stress in America™: January 2021 Stress Snapshot,” conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association, reported that stress levels continue to climb in the United States. And that higher than average rates of stress has become a significant health risk for Americans.

Can stress impact the way you look? Chronic stress is when cortisol (stress hormones) is sustained for long periods. Chronic stress contributes to premature aging, as cortisol and other stress-related hormones can shorten telomeres in cells. The long-term impact of cortisol can weaken the immune system, triggering breakouts, premature aging (wrinkles, thickening or darkening of dermis and age spots), and much more.

The choices we make every day can add up to improved wellness and a youthful appearance. Make sure that you make the time to take care of yourself and protect your skin and your health from within. Ask your clinician at Bloom MedSpa for clinical-grade skincare products and treatments that can help.

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