At 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver is known as the Mile High City, which means Coloradan’s are closer to the sun than most. For every 1,000 feet above sea level, ultraviolet exposure increases anywhere between 4-10%. Spending time unprotected under the sun increases your chances of skin cancer, along with early aging. More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, 90% of which, are caused by sun exposure.
People in Colorado live an active outdoor lifestyle, so not only do we live closer to the sun, we also spend a great deal of time outdoors. Swingle wants to inform you the importance of why we should protect ourselves from harmful sun exposure.
How to Best Protect Yourself From Sun Exposure:
- Time – Spending an excessive amount of time in the sun causes damage to your skin and leads to a possible sunburn. Seek shade and avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10AM-4PM when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Sunscreen – Having UVA and UVB protection (broad-spectrum), helps protect your skin from severe UV damage. UVB rays cause sunburns, while UVA rays penetrate and damage skin, causing skin aging and wrinkling. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the ability to block UVB rays. Make sure you find a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection.
- Clothing – Wearing protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and UV blocking sunglasses gives substantial protection against UV rays. Products with UPF protection, offer built-in sun protection that won’t wear off. With a wide verity of products on the market, you can find stylish protective clothing for the whole family.
- Monthly Skin Exam – Examine your skin once a month, using a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. If you check your skin regularly, then you’ll know what it normally looks like. You’ll also be more likely to notice an abnormality. In addition to an annual skin exam with your dermatologist, be sure to schedule a visit if you observe any abnormal skin changes.
Why You Should Protect Yourself From Sun Exposure:
- Skin cancer – The most common form of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. Certain factors, like intense, blistering sunburns, family history, and numerous moles can increase the risk of skin cancer. For high-risk individuals, a routine check-up with the dermatologist is an easy way to monitor abnormal skin changes before it’s too late.
- Premature aging – Recurring sun exposure causes your skin to lose its ability to naturally repair itself, leading to loss of elasticity, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines. Although aging skin is obviously caused by other factors, using sunscreen regularly is a great way to slow down the process.
As Coloradans, we live an outdoor lifestyle and enjoy close to 300 days of sunshine a year on average. When you spend a lot of time outside and you’re closer to the sun, it’s easier to damage and burn your skin. The harmful effects of the sun can be very dangerous and even life threatening but taking a few proactive steps will ensure you can enjoy the outdoors safely.