A case of unilateral dermatoheliosis. Image courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine
Use an ocean of lotion
By now, you should be well-versed in the health benefits of applying sunscreen (and other forms of protection) to prevent skin cancer.
If not, then you’ve probably been living in a cave, which, if you think about it, is also a pretty good way to way to avoid excessive ultraviolet radiation.
But for those who aren’t familiar with the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines on the subject, here’s a little added impetus: A new study out of Australia (where they know a thing or two about sun exposure) has found that using a sunscreen lotion regularly can slow signs of aging skin well into middle age.
Scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research with colleagues split 903 Aussies aged 55 and younger into two groups: One group used a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 at their own discretion on their faces, necks, arms and hands; the other group used sunscreen much more regularly: every morning, after swimming, heavy sweating or spending several hours in the sun.
Four-and-a-half years later, the skin of the latter group was found to be 24 percent less likely to show signs of increased aging. The benefit did not appear to be influenced by pre-existing skin damage from the sun, but rather by how liberally participants slathered the lotion on.
As for the image above, courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine, it’s more compelling visual evidence of what happens from a relative lifetime of unabated, unprotected sun exposure.
The face belongs to a 69-year-old man who drove a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A rays streaming through his vehicle’s windows consistently struck the left side of his face, slowly and gradually thickening and wrinkling the skin while simultaneously destroying its elasticity. The condition is called dermatoheliosis. The patient’s doctor prescribed the use of sun protection, topical retinoids and periodic monitoring for skin cancer.