“There’s no such thing as a healthy tan. Tanning is a sign of skin damage,” said Dr. Ross Levy, chief of dermatology at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
He explained that “sunlight contains ultraviolet rays that trigger changes in the DNA of skin cells. Most of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them, but occasionally the damage is missed and skin cancer takes hold. The more sun you are exposed to, the greater your risk.”
To protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays, wear long-sleeve shirts, pants and a wide-brimmed hat. At the pool or beach, wear a swim shirt or rash guard that is rated for sun protection.
Limit your time outdoors when the sun is directly overhead and its rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Use a broad spectrum sunscreen, which blocks out UVA and UVB rays, both of which can damage skin.
“I suggest SPF 50 sunscreen that should be liberally applied to the face, ears, neck, hands, legs and any exposed skin 15 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming, since even water-resistant sunscreens wash off,” Levy said in a hospital news release.