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Your Healthy Lifestyle

healthy_servicesAt ENT Specialists of North Florida, the focus is on you and your health. Please visit our site regularly for updates on various topics in promoting and maintaining your healthy lifestyle!

Sun Protection and Skin Cancer Prevention

Our skin is the largest organ of the body. It is extremely important to protect our skin from the sun. Living in Florida, the sunshine state, exposes us regularly to the sun’s damaging rays. Sun damage can occur at a single event with a moderate to severe sunburn or can occur with regular exposure through tanning over months to years. Yes, tanning (in tanning beds) causes damage to the skin as well!

Ultraviolet radiation is emitted from the sun and absorbed into our skin. On a cellular level, ultraviolet radiation causes damage to the structure and replication processes of our skin. This can lead to skin cancers such as basal or squamous cell carcinomas or even melanoma. Often, the damage is done in the teenage or early twenties with lesions appearing years down the road.
Ultraviolet radiation is often termed UV-A and UV-B for the two main types of ultraviolet rays (solar rays) that cause damage. UV-A damage does not cause the redness and pain that a typical sunburn creates and is often called “invisible damage” because it is difficult for a person to know how much UV-A damage occurs. UV-A damage is the most important cause of skin cancer.

A little about sunscreen….SPF (sun protection factor) is a measure of how much UV radiation is required to produce damage on protected skin versus unprotected skin. The higher the SPF rating, the more protection against UV-B radiation occurs. It does not measure protection against UV-A rays. The only way a sunscreen can block UV-A rays is by containing a blocker such as zinc oxide, avobenzone or ecamsule. Titanium dioxide blocks some UV-A rays but not all. SPF also does not measure how much time you can be exposed. SPF 15 does not mean you can stay in the sun 15x longer which is a common misconception among consumers. Most good modern sunscreens block both of these rays; however it is important to check the label.

For those of us who want to look younger, sun (UV) damage is the number one contributor to skin aging causing a loss of elasticity and collagen, wrinkles and lines, and pigmentary problems. These changes can be improved with various treatments such as chemical peels, lasers or prescription topical creams. All of these treatments are much more expensive then sunscreen and hats. So if you want to look young…..protect your skin from the sun!