Protect Your Largest Organ in Cooler Months – Your Skin!

November is National Healthy Skin Month! One of the best ways we can care for our bodies’ biggest organ is to wear sunscreen. We often associate sunburn with the summer: sitting on a beach, laying out on a sunny day, the raging Georgia heat. But when the warmth of the summer months goes away, the sun does not go with it. Believe it or not, you can get sun damage in the fall and winter, too.

“We are exposed to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays year round. So, we should wear sunscreen year round.” said Stamps Health Services senior director, Dr. Ben Holton.  But, if that isn’t convincing enough, here are some additional reasons to protect your skin, even in the cooler months:

Lower your risk of skin cancer (melanoma).

The most important and most obvious reason to keep protecting your skin is the risk of skin cancer. Every hour one American dies from melanoma. But, a recent study showed that regular sunscreen use reduced the incidence of melanoma by 50-73%! Even if you don’t see the visible effects of sun damage (which can still happen in the winter), you’re still at risk for skin cancer. The more sun you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers. Protect your skin!

No embarrassing tan lines in your holiday cards.

Although tans and burns may be rarer during these months, they’re possible, especially when Georgia hits a sunny 75 degrees (like it did in 2015—on Christmas). No one wants tan lines, especially when those tan lines will be seen by everyone. Going on vacation over winter break? Just chilling at home? Wear sunscreen and avoid tan lines, burn lines, and redness!

Avoid the pain of sunburns.

A sunburn can occur in any month. People with certain conditions, on certain medications, or with fairer skin are even more susceptible to burns— even in the winter. Sunburns can cause pain, fever, and blistering— and who wants that? Furthermore, snow burn from sunlight reflecting off snow or ice-covered ground can cause skin damage. Although we do not get a lot of snow here in Georgia, it’s still a good idea to wear sunscreen throughout all the fall and winter months— especially if you’re going home to a snowier state.

Save the wrinkles for later.

Sun exposure contributes to signs of aging, such as wrinkles. In fact, a study showed that UV exposure is responsible for 80% of visible facial aging signs. The face is constantly exposed to sunlight, even in the fall and winter months. This means that UV rays impact your face even when it’s colder. By protecting our skin year-round, we can lessen the impact of aging. So, put on sunscreen and save those wrinkles for later!

Avoid weakening your immune system.

Sun can impact more than your skin. Many studies have revealed that sun exposure can have negative impacts on your immune system. Experimental animal studies showed that UV exposure can impair resistance to bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. These infections are not limited to skin, but also concern systemic infections. Although the data is recent, there is significant evidence that UV rays from outdoor exposure can impair the human immune system. Better safe than sorry— protect your body by protecting your skin.

The sun is always out.  Although the sun can have positive effects, such as increasing Vitamin D levels, it can also have serious negative effects on your body. Protect your skin during these cooler months and wear sunscreen!

 

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