Our Tough Cover- Our skin plays a vital role in our health

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on July 10, 2019 with No Comments

by Jan Adler

Do you know what part of our body protects us from the environment, regulates our body temperature, weighs about six pounds, detects and fights off infections?  What part of our body permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold, is the largest body organ and weighs approximately six pounds?  Give up?

The answer is our skin.  It consists of three separate layers, each with their own role in protecting our body.

Our skin color depends on the amount of melanin our layers of skin produce.  Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than fair-skinned people.

Melanin is produced by special body cells.  It provides some protection against skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays by increasing the amount of melanin produced during our time spent in the sun.

A tan is actually a protective response against the sun’s harmful rays.  As appealing and sought after a tan is considered, it is not an outward sign of good health.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause long-term skin damage and possibly skin cancer.  UV rays cause the skin to lose it strength and flexibility which results in wrinkles and loose or sagging skin.  Most UV rays become absorbed through the skin and can damage our DNA (our genetic makeup), thus causing cancer.

While some regular exposure to the sun is needed for our bodies to produce vitamin D which is necessary for our bone strength, excess sun exposure is harmful.

Even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside. The sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to 30.  Be generous with sunscreen by applying at least two tablespoons to skin that will be exposed to the sun.

Wearing a hat with a large brim, long-sleeved shirts and long pants will provide you with protection against the sun’s rays.  Eyes not protected from the sun’s rays may lead to cataract formation later in life.  Sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption are needed to provide ideal protection for your eyes and surrounding skin.

And lastly, limit your time out in the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  This is when the sun’s rays are most harmful.

Our skin plays a vital role in our health.  It is our responsibility to make good decisions that result in respect and care for this valuable protective gift we have.

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