Ways to protect your skin from harmful summer sunlight

Dr. Stanley Glaser, a dermatologist with New England Dermatology and Laser Center, discussed ways to keep your skin healthy (Sponsored by TommyCar Auto Group)
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 11:15 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - July is UV Awareness Month and with that, just about everyone trying to spend more time outdoors, what can we do to protect our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays? Dr. Stanley Glaser, a dermatologist with New England Dermatology and Laser Center, discussed ways to keep your skin healthy.

Why is it so important to pay attention to the strength of the sun’s rays and how can we protect ourselves?

Glaser: “Well, first of all, there are many rays that the sun puts out. It puts out something called visible light, which allows us to see colors, which makes up about 50 percent of the sun rays. It puts out about 40 percent of what’s called infrared, which causes the planet to heat up, and then it causes about, emits about 10 percent of what’s called ultraviolet light, which is invisible and the ultraviolet light is broken up into two wavelengths. One is something called UVB, which are the burning rays of the sun and these are the ones that cause sunburn, and the second rays are called UVA rays and those are called the photoaging parts of the sun. And this ultraviolet light, over time, is cumulative, so that it causes changes in the skin. The UVA light causes photo aging, such as brown spots and lines and wrinkles and the UVB light causes sunburn and also the two lights together tend to cause skin cancer, so protection is very important.”

What’s the best ways that you can protect yourself from the sun?

Glaser: “Well, obviously, not to go out in the sun, but one needs to understand that it’s not just the sun. If it’s daytime, it’s sunlight and it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or it’s snowing or cloudy, ultraviolet light is out there, so you don’t have to necessarily see the sun or even the sun to be shining to get ultraviolet light damage and so the way to protect obviously is sunscreen. Secondly, to wear a hat. Thirdly, to protect your eyes with sunglasses and to seek shade when you can.”

Some people may say things like, ‘Oh, I never burn.’ What would you tell someone like that that thinks they don’t need to wear sunscreen or kind of hesitant because they just think they’re okay?

Glaser: “Well, the point of fact, when the skin tans, that’s the way the skin protects itself from the sun. It wants the pigment, so tanning is a protective mechanism and almost everybody can burn. It doesn’t matter who you are, what color you are, the darker your skin, you’re less likely to burn, but even dark skin patients can burn, so there’s no such thing as not being able, not getting a sunburn.”

Are there any like telltale signs that someone can look out for on their skin that would prompt them to perhaps call a dermatologist right away?

Glaser: “Of course, of course. Any lesion that one sees that’s a new lesion, that changes appreciably in size or color, that bleeds, that crust, we call it the ugly duckling sign. You sort of see it when you know it and also people who have multiple moles have to keep track of their moles. Frequent sunlight exposure and severe sunburns contribute to development of skin cancer as well.”

Segment sponsored by TommyCar Auto Group.