During the summer months, you might be tempted to skip the sunblock to get a tan, but according to Dr. Nathan Hanson, MD, a dermatologist at Intermountain Budge Clinic, tan skin is damaged skin.
“Unfortunately, our society views tan skin as healthy skin. Really, tan skin is actually damaged skin,” Dr. Hanson explained. “Tanning is not healthy. It has the same carcinogenicity as cigarette smoke.”
Dr. Hanson also explained that behaviors such as sunbathing and using tanning beds can be as addictive as drug use.
Not only can UV light damage and age our skin, it can also cause cancer. In fact, the state of Utah has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the country. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell are two common forms of skin cancer and are typically removed surgically.
Dr. Hanson said the older you are, the higher your risk of having skin cancer is. However, he stresses the importance of protecting skin from a young age. He said that young skin can be extremely vulnerable. He also added that incidents of skin cancer development in young adults continues to go up, especially cases of melanoma in young women.
“You can enjoy the outdoors and protect yourself at the same time,” Dr. Hanson added.
Hanson said he’s an avid outdoorsman, but he takes certain precautions to protect his skin from UV light. He said it’s important to avoid the peak hours of UV exposure (10am-4pm). He also encourages outdoors enthusiasts to use broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunblock. Lastly, it’s a good idea to wear protective clothing and broad-brimmed hats that shade the face.
If you take these precautions to protect your skin, you may want to take a Vitamin D supplement.
“The amount of light that is required for Vitamin D production from UV exposure is actually very small. Roughly five to ten minutes on the back of your hands, three times a week is adequate for Vitamin D production,” he said.
Changing or irregular moles are a sign of skin cancer. Dr. Hanson said if you ever have concerns about a changing mole or a bruised area that won’t seem to heal, you should have it checked out.