Though we’ve had an unusually mild Chicago winter this year, the gloomy days of February understandably leave many of us dreaming about sunny locales. So, by the time spring break rolls around in March, the bags are packed and off we go to somewhere warmer and sunnier.
However, while finally getting some sun (and some much-needed vitamin D) is a good thing, it’s easy to go overboard at our spring break destinations, get sunburnt, and suffer from harmful skin damage.
This spring break, remember that too much sun could result in:
Ultraviolet rays are the cause of 90 percent of prematurely aging skin. These rays damage collagen fibers, the protein that provide skin structure, and elastin, the protein that maintains the “springiness” of the skin.
Sunspots are another possible result from exposure to ultraviolet rays. They can appear in a variety of sizes and colors, and for the most part, remain harmless. With some patients, sunspots have a 10 to 15 percent chance to develop into a form of skin cancer.
Melanoma is a threatening type of skin cancer that typically occurs on sun-damaged skin. It usually appears as a flat spot on the skin that, if untreated, changes in size, color, and shape.
It’s important to remember that your skin is particularly susceptible to damage during the winter months, when it hasn’t been used to intense levels of sunlight.
Finally, getting sunburnt isn’t only bad for your skin—it can also ruin the rest of your vacation by making you uncomfortable (at best) or in pain (at worst) and forcing you to stay indoors. And what’s worse than having to look out at your friends having fun at a beach paradise while confined to your hotel room?
So, when you go on vacation next month, think carefully about the health of your skin, and protect it. Prevention is always the first step toward healthy skin. Those with fair complexions are most at risk, and are advised to avoid sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunscreen and protective clothing are also suggested for those expecting prolonged sun exposure. Do remember that sunscreen gets less effective as it approaches its expiration date, so it’s usually a good idea to purchase a new bottle for each vacation season.
And whether you’ve experienced a sunburn or not, when you get back home, it’s always a good idea to check your body for any suspicious moles or spots that could be early signs of skin cancer.