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I realized something the other day about sun exposure and my skin: It is possible for it to be damaged by the sun even in the shade. I was painting a piece of furniture in the backyard and had positioned myself in the shade. I had my water bottle out, remembering to drink regularly. I was staying cool from a light breeze. I felt good, or so I thought. Later I jumped into the pool to cool down and noticed my shoulders felt dry and itchy. A closure look revealed that the skin was already dry and peeling, and I had tan lines from my tank top! Turns out UV rays can still reflect off other objects and cause skin damage even in the shade.
Some of the most harmful hours are between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun is directly overhead. Sun exposure should be limited during those times. Cloudy days may seem better, but that is not necessarily true. During partially cloudy days, something called the “broken cloud effect” occurs: the UV rays are actually stronger than on a clear day. There are scientific studies proving this, but basically the clouds trap and reflect the rays, making them stronger than normal. Regardless of whether there are clouds or clear skies, sun protection is vital for healthy skin during daytime hours.
Aging skin needs extra attention to avoid skin damage. Sunscreen is vital every day. If you are going outdoors, sit near windows, or even spend time riding in the car, the sun’s rays can be damaging. Hats can help offer additional protection, but sunscreen is still necessary. Seeking shade can help alleviate some of the sun’s impact but don’t forget that it is still not 100% effective at blocking UV rays. Lightweight protective clothing can also help. Some manufacturers have created protective factor (SPF) clothing specifically designed to block UV ray exposure. Your dermatologist can give recommendations for clothing and hats that meet your specific skin needs. You can also find sun SPF clothing at some sporting goods stores. L.L. Bean and Patagonia are just a few brands that sell such clothing.
Going outdoors is an important part of our daily health. If we prepare well, we can maintain vital and strong skin. It does not take a sunburn to become damaged. Any suntan is an indication that damage has already occurred. Don’t intentionally sunbathe. Always use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater, and reapply regularly. It doesn’t last all day. The most exposed parts of the body are our hands and face. Don’t forget to protect them. Wear a hat with a brim. And whenever possible, avoid the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM. Our skin is the first protective barrier for germs and harmful substances. Don’t forget to care for it and nourish it to maintain its protective nature. Be well with healthy suncare practices.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.