By Tom Bostock

The skin is one of the body’s most remarkable and complicated organs. This amazing collection of cells are some of the body’s original multi taskers. While helping to regulate your body’s temperature, it gathers sensory information from the surrounding environment while it plays an active role in the immune system to protect the body from disease. The skin’s primary function is to serve as a protective barrier that interacts with a sometimes-hostile environment.

The skin consists of three major layers, the epidermis (outermost layer), the dermis (supporting layer), and subcutaneous fat. The epidermis is the top layer of your skin. The dermis is thicker than the epidermis and contains all sweat and oil glands, hair follicles, connective tissue, nerve endings, and lymph vessels. The layer of skin beneath the dermis is sometimes called the subcutaneous fat, subcutis or hypodermis layer. (Bing.com).

I know these are interesting facts, but why this should be important to you? In interviewing local dermatologist, Dr. Liza Brown, I asked her what was important for her magazine and online article. Without hesitation, dismissing the opportunity for self-promotion, “Tips on protecting your skin from the sun.”

Now that you understand the important functions that your skin provides for your body’s health while you are outside soaking up the sun’s rays, did you also realize that overexposure to those same warming rays or even an artificial sun lamp has hidden dangers with both short, and long-term effects on your skin? Dr. Brown warned that the results of the sun are cumulative with roughly 25% of sun damage occurring before the age of 18.

Dr. Brown warned that “severe sunburns during childhood and adolescence may increase one’s risk of melanoma; children should be especially protected from the sun. Experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between the ages 15 to 20 increases one’s risk of melanoma by 80% and Nonmelanoma skin cancer by 68%.” 

The effects of ultraviolet rays on skin will vary, depending on the length of exposure but, as a Bing.com article notes, “Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily — taking longer to heal.” In fact, most of what we think is normal skin aging is actually caused by the sun.

Dr. Brown differentiated between the two ultraviolet rays contained in sunlight and their consequences from long-term or over exposure. UVA rays are the ones that contribute to the aging of the skin, she warned, while UVB rays can cause skin cancer. She also noted there are many things we can do to protect our skin when we are outside, exposed to the sun. 

Did you even realize prolonged exposure to the blue light emissions from our computers, televisions, and hand-held communications devices can also affect the skin? With COVID-19 restricting our access to schools and outdoor activities, virtual education has replaced a great deal of in-school education and with it, the inherent risk of the invisible emissions.

Our first line of defense should be, Dr. Brown suggests, the liberal application of a sunscreen, roughly one shot glass worth or 1 ounce as part of your daily routine. Each manufacturer’s product receives an SPF rating (Sun Protective Factor) based on the percentage of prevention to UVB exposure it provides. Dr. Brown recommends sunscreens should have at least an SPF rating of 30 to be effective. She also warned, even a 99% rating still allows a 1% exposure, so reapplication every 2 hours is crucial. 

UPF Clothing can also help control UV exposure, according to Dr. Brown. Hats should have a wide brim, and sunglasses should be worn to protect your eyes. she suggests. According to rei.com, a rating of less than 15 UPF means the product does not provide any protection. A typical white cottom T-shirt, for example, offers about a UPF 5 rating, which means that 20 percent of available UV radiation passes through it.

“If you learn nothing else about UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) consider this: Always look for a garment’s lab-tested UPF rating (if available) to evaluate its true UV protection level.” 

Dr. Brown suggests that tighter weaved fabrics provide greater protection. The rei.com article added, “darker fabrics will usually perform better that light ones and polyester and nylon do better at sun protection than natural fibers.”

Dermatology Associates of Palm Beach and Dr. Brown are committed to educating their patients about the risks present in overexposure to the sun’s potentially harmful rays. Following Dr. Brown’s helpful tips can ensure a safe, and healthy Summer. 

Dr. Brown’s practice is a full-service dermatology one, offering a wide range of professional skin, hair, and nail services for patients in the Tampa Bay area. As one of her many satisfied patients noted: 

“I don’t visit dermatologist all that often, only when I see something I don’t like. Dr Brown was through, professional and without a doubt knew what she was doing. She spent a lot ‘s time with me reviewing my medical history and the impact the drugs I am taking could affect my skin problem. She is a keeper, I now have a dermatologist for life.”

Call or visit today for a better ‘you’ tomorrow. Dr. Liza Brown, Dermatology Associates of the Palm Beaches, 2160 Duck Slough Blvd, Ste 103, Trinity, FL 34555. (727) 807-9070.