Recently I went to visit my dermatologist for a body check. This is when the dermatologist looks all over your body to make sure you do not have form of cancer on the skins surface. The idea of making the appointment came after speaking with a friend of mine to find out that her first husband had died of untreated skin cancer that affected his major organs. From the time they discovered it to the time he died was 3 months! He was 38 when this happened.
When I was younger, I was one of those teenagers that would apply baby oil liberally all over my body and lay on one of those foil mats and sun bathe. I did all those things they warn us about now a days. Visibly I have many freckles on my upper back and some dark sun spots on my face, under my eyes of all places. I was a bit scared of what the doctor may have found so stupidly I kept putting off making the appointment.
It was not until he put me in a dark room after handing me a mirror and putting on a special black light that I freaked out. Looking at the monster in the mirror really scared me. Most of my sun damage was not visible to the naked eye! A person I hardly recognized was looking back at me in that mirror. If my face were a Halloween costume under that black light, I would scare everyone! The sun damage was enormous. The doctor told me it was not so bad for someone of my age, he had seen worse. I assure you, that did not make me any better! He did suggest me covering up well with a minimum of spf 30 when in the sun directly or even indirectly to avoid any further damage, or worse yet skin cancer.
Laying in the sun, sun bathing causes us to lose our elasticity in our skin faster. We are prone to getting more wrinkles at even earlier ages with prolonged sun exposure. The sun burns our skin when tanning. If you have ever toasted a marshmallow, what happens first is the marshmallow starts to turn a golden brown, and then darker and darker until it catches fire. Well, while we will probably not catch fire, our skin is burning even while tanning. If a tanned look is what you are trying to achieve, try using a powdered bronzer or even a self tanner that requires no sun at all.
Having three children under the age of 13 and a brand new in ground pool in our yard, I am very concerned about the effects of the sun on my kids virgin skin. With the damage we are doing daily to the ozone, the sun is only getting stronger. The atmosphere is providing us less and less protection from damaging rays. I have started using a stronger sunscreen on my children. I tell them how important it is for them to protect their skin from the hazards of the sun. It may take us longer to get out of the house during summer months because of the sunscreen lathering up on everyone, but in the long run, it sure beats getting skin cancer or sun damage!
My friends and I used to have so much fun during the summer months, running around with no cares in the world, loving the sun. Now my kids are concerned about sun damage and staying in the shade, not wanting to go to the beach unless we have an umbrella (dare I tell them about the oceans reflection on beach goers). Although they now have to think about protecting their skin in the sun, they are growing up more mindful then we did as kids. Hopefully by some miracle there will be a cure for skin cancer (and all other cancers). But until then, lather that lotion on your kids, and yourself. Be wary of the effects the sun has on your skin, and most importantly…GO FOR A BODY CHECK at a dermatologists office!