Around Acadiana

May 12, 2014 5:39 PM by Kristen Holloway

The Dangers and Benefits of Sun Exposure

We know we're supposed to take care of our skin, especially in the warmer months. But are we doing it right, and what happens if we don't? For many, today's sunburn is the start of tomorrow's skin cancer; but not all sun exposure is bad for you.

Wearing sunscreen is important more now than ever.
Chronic exposure to the sun and sun burns can be dangerous.
Dr. Stephanie Aldret says burns destruct the skin cells and can lead to skin cancer.

"People that are in their car all the time will end up having freckles or more sun exposure on the left side of their body and their left arm. And they may end up with a skin cancer on that left side where it's just constant sun exposure and not so much on the right," said Dr. Stephanie Aldret Family Medicine at Regional Medical.

There are steps you can take to minimize your risk of skin cancer:
Wear sunscreen anytime you're in the sun; re-apply every hour; and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face.

Doctors say not all exposure to the sun is bad. Being out in the sun for no more than 20 minutes a day, with sunscreen, is beneficial.

"Sun exposure is required in order to get the Vitamin D into our system; it can help with our bone health, our energy, and our mood," said Dr. Aldret.

Dr. Aldret says tanning beds are especially harmful when it comes to UV radiation.

"That is a concentrated amount of UV lighting that changes the skin and it does put you at an increase risk for melanoma," said Dr. Aldret.

Your skin can have sun damage even if you can't see it. You can go to your dermatologist to have your skin examined under a UV light that will show damage that isn't visible to the naked eye.

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