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Did you know that if you spend all day in the sun, you should have used your whole bottle of sunscreen by the end of the day? Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to keep them safe.

Spending too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer and an array of less serious medical issues. However, if you follow the advice of the experts, you should be able to enjoy your time outdoors and still protect yourself from damaging ultraviolet rays.

According to Jennifer Winkleman, PA-C with the Department of Dermatology at Christie Clinic in Decatur, the sun’s rays can be responsible for melanoma, by far the most deadly form of skin cancer. She added that other effects of working, playing or just hanging out under the midday sun include sunburn, changes in the skin, visible aging, eye issues such as cataracts and a weakened immune system.

Take Proper Precautions

If you take the proper precautions however, you do not have to spend your life indoors, Winkleman pointed out. She said you should avoid the sun in the middle of the day, from about 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., and always wear 30 SPF or higher sunscreen on all exposed areas of your body. When you are out in the sun, re-apply the sunscreen every two hours – every hour if you are swimming. Winkleman also said to be sure to check the sunscreen’s expiration date because it does not last forever.

“The biggest mistake people make is not re-applying sunscreen frequently and not using enough of it,” she said. “We recommend that you use one ounce for your entire body if you are out in the sun. For a full day in the sun, you should pretty much use up an 8-ounce bottle. Most people don’t and they aren’t fully protecting themselves.”

She added that what you wear can make a huge difference as well. She recommended a broad-brimmed hat. “Baseball caps are great at protecting your nose but not your ears,” said Winkleman.  Sunglasses designed specifically to protect your eyes from UVB rays are also encouraged. Even protective clothing is now available, but Winkleman noted that it is usually only effective for one summer season.

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 “It’s good for only 50 washings, and you can’t dry it with fabric softener because that decreases the SPF protection,” she said.

 Excess time in the sun does tend to make your skin look older than you are, but Winkleman pointed out that even children can develop melanoma.

 “You should start protecting your skin as early as possible. Exposure is cumulative. A minute here and a minute there adds up over your lifetime,” she said.

Eating a proper diet can also help you avoid sun-related issues. Winkleman said a good way to help protect yourself from sun exposure damage is to consume foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acid, such as salmon and tuna, as well as fruits and vegetables that provide you with an ample supply of vitamins A and C.

When to Seek Medical Attention

What are signs and symptoms of developing skin cancer? Winkleman said a spot on your skin that hurts, itches, changes shape or color, or a sore that will not heal, bleeds or changes appearance are all reasons to see a medical professional right away.

If you have concerns regarding the harmful effects of sun exposure on your body, contact the experts at Christie Clinic by calling (217) 366-1248 or visiting dermatology.christieclinic.com

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