We’ve all heard it before – “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” But there may be a better beauty secret for keeping skin looking young and healthy now that we’re in the year’s hottest months.

 

While summer in Arkansas usually means pool parties, floating the river and backyard barbecues, it also comes with dangers. Experts suggest covering up with sunblock and protective clothing to keep looking and feeling our best.

 

An Axios report found that Arkansas has climbed above the national average in the rate of skin cancer diagnoses in recent years as the state saw 23.6 new cases per 100,000 people from 2016-2020 – slightly higher than the national average of 22.6, making it the 28th-highest rate out of 48 states reporting.

 

But how can we protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging UV rays?

 

Many use the terms sunscreen and sunblock interchangeably, but Dr. Zachary Young of Arkansas Plastic Surgery says one is more effective than the other. Sunscreen is a chemical barrier that sits on top of the skin and absorbs the UV rays, while sunblock is a physical barrier that completely stops all rays from reaching the skin. He also notes that it’s important to have wide spectrum coverage to block both UVA and UVB rays.

 

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Other effective methods of protection include clothing, which, funny enough, does the same as sunblock and keeps the rays from ever reaching the skin to do damage. A wide-brim, tightly knit hat is highly suggested with any outfit. Staying in the shade is another way to mitigate the risks of sun damage. When using sunscreen or sunblock, it is recommended to reapply often, as products can easily wash off or be rubbed off.

 

Less serious issues caused by overexposure to the sun include skin discoloration, wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

 

Several companies have also developed SPF-infused clothing for extra protection. So, this summer, it may be better to opt for a stylish yet modest outfit over a flattering bikini. Your skin will thank you for years to come.

 

In studies, there has been a significant increase in skin cancer in people over the age of 50, according to American Cancer Society Senior Vice President of Cancer Care Support Shanthi Sivendran. ACS estimates about 100,640 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year nationwide as new cases have risen 2-3% annually from 2015 to 2019.

 

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The report found that increased sun exposure may not be the only reason for the rise in cases, as better methods of detection and longer lifespans can also be contributing factors.

 

Melanoma makes up about 1% of all skin cancers but also accounts for the majority of related deaths, according to ACS. Skin cancer is also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country.

 

Sun exposure has a clear connection to basal and squamous cell skin cancers as well, which are different from melanoma.

 

“People who get periodically sunburnt frequently tend to have a higher risk of developing melanoma,” says Henry Lim, a dermatologist at Henry Ford Health in Detroit and former president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

 

It may be tempting for many of us to strut our stuff, but for health and beauty that lasts, showing less will keep your skin better longer.

 

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