Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is nothing to scoff at, especially if you have fair skin and live in an area where the summer sun can be unbearable. Living in an elevated area exposes you to more intense sunlight and higher concentrations of UV — making sun damage all but inevitable.
The Sun is Your Skin’s Worst Enemy
Nothing ages your skin faster than UV. Sun damage is the leading cause of visible skin aging — but it can also lead to more serious problems. Dangerous UV can penetrate into your skin, reducing its collagen and elastin content. Both collagen and elastin are essential in keeping your skin looking young — preventing sagging and keeping your skin flexible. UV radiation is also associated with hair loss — including your eyebrows and other facial hair. Chronic UV exposure also damages your skin at a deeper level — affecting its DNA and increasing your chances of developing skin cancer and melanomas. In fact, Utah has one of the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the nation. Utah’s elevation exposes you to higher concentrations of UV — up to 20 percent more in cities like Salt Lake City and Ogden to 50 percent more in Park City and Alta.
Avoid Dangerous UV Radiation
It won’t be possible to stay away from the sun forever, but you can take measures to protect yourself from dangerous UV. Protective clothing can limit your skin’s exposure to the sun. Most melanomas develop on the face, so make sure to wear a hat when it is particularly sunny. Apply sunblock if you can’t avoid the sun — but keep in mind that its effects only last for a couple of hours. If you’re going for a long walk, bring an umbrella to block the sun. Sunlight can also damage your skin without your knowledge. Those few minutes of driving to work every day expose you to UV — and the damage to your skin accumulates. Research in the US and the UK have reported that driving was one of the primary causes of chronic UV exposure. Protect yourself by lining your car’s windows with UV-filtering film and make your daily drives a lot safer.
Managing Sun Damage
Skin aging from sun exposure is mostly reversible, but you may need to have cosmetic procedures for more permanent damage caused by melanomas or to manage hair loss. Add a bit of sulfur into your diet with meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, eggs, and dairy. Sulfur aids in your body’s production of collagen as well as in maintaining its natural pigmentation. Drink lots of water and use moisturizing creams on your face. Massaging your face also stimulates the growth of elastin and collagen. Hair loss is permanent, so you might want to consider permanent makeup to make your eyebrows look thicker and micro-pigmentation for your scalp. Skin cancer and melanoma surgery can leave unsightly scars, but concealers can hide all but the most serious of them. You can also opt for minor reconstructive surgery if you want a more permanent solution.
Like it or not, the sun is a constant part of your life. However, you can take measures to protect yourself from the sun and avoid UV damage.