Protection for Ageing Skin
It’s easy to lose track of time and not notice the creeping signs of ageing skin until you’re staring at them in the mirror. Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing. Not only will it reduce your risk of sunburn and skin cancer, but it can also help prevent wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of ageing.
In Australia, the danger of our sun comes year-round. The harmful rays seem to always be lurking, ready to ruin a daily walk, outdoor exercise, or even get you while driving from point A to point B.
It is easy to become complacent when it comes to our health, but it is important to remember that if you don’t look after your body, it won’t look after you. With the ageing process weakening the body’s immune system, seniors are at a heightened risk. With this in mind, here are some ways to keep your skin and body safe from the sun.
There are three types of skin cancers to be aware of. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma both grow slowly, appearing in areas most exposed to the sun, and rarely spreading to other organs. The third – melanoma – is the most dangerous. This type of skin cancer is not as common, but can be deadly.
UV rays from the sun can cause a lot of damage to your skin and body. UVA rays can lead to signs of advanced ageing as well as contribute to some forms of skin cancer, whereas the stronger UVB rays can directly alter skin cell DNA.
Sunscreen is a vital part of your daily skincare routine, whatever your age. It’s the single most important thing you can do to protect your skin from the sun’s rays and help it look younger, and keep healthy.
As we age, our skin becomes more vulnerable to damage from the sun because it produces less melanin, a natural pigment that helps block UV rays. This is why it’s so important to use sunscreen every day.
The good news is that there are now many types of sunscreen on the market that work well on mature skin and don’t leave an uncomfortable oily residue. Any form of application is as good as the other – stick, spray, roll-on, cream, etc. – and should be applied between 15-30 minutes before first exposure, and re-applied every two hours.
Look for one with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF30 or above), water-resistant, and broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays – especially UVA II which penetrates deep into the skin causing wrinkles and lines.
Be sure to check your expiration dates, as sunburn can ruin anyone’s day.
If you love spending time outdoors but want to protect your skin from UV rays, there are high-quality sun-protective clothing brands that offer UPF50+ protection that blocks out 97% of UVA and UVB radiation.
If you’re just going out for a short time, you don’t need to get dressed up in a complete outfit to protect yourself from UV rays. Opt for clothes that are tight-fitting and well-made so that they don’t let any light through them (like a long-sleeved T-shirt). If you’re going out during the day, wear dark colours so that the sun’s rays are absorbed by the material instead of reflected onto your skin. Wear a broad-brimmed hat or cap at all times when in sunlight, even on cloudy days, because UV radiation can penetrate clouds.
It is important to remember that UV rays from the sun can also damage your eyes. In addition to a hat or cap when outside in the sun, and remaining in the shade, wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from damaging rays, as well as reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
The most popular types of sunglasses are prescription glasses or regular shades with polarized lenses. The polarized lenses block out light reflected off water or shiny surfaces, which can cause glare and eye strain.
(TIP: Never leave your sunglasses behind with transitional lenses. Available on a large number of prescription glasses, your sight and eyes are protected.)
Every exposure to harmful UV rays adds up, eventually leading to the high rates of skin cancer experienced in Australia. While many push the worry out of their minds and disregard it as an issue to deal with in the future, effects can show themselves at any time throughout your life. It is important to conduct monthly whole body skin checks, so you can be aware of any changes should they occur. This could range from a new growth, to a changing mole, or even a sore that is not healing as it should.
Take your time with your skin check, using a mirror for areas that are harder to see. Follow the “ABCDE’s”:
As you age, the sun takes a much greater toll on your skin than it did when you were in your twenties. The years of casual exposure to UV rays can lead to lines, wrinkles and sunspots that are much harder to treat and reverse. Before you start to see signs of ageing, take care of your skin, and your whole body.
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide