By Claire Bassford
With spring here and summer just around the corner, students are spending more time outside enjoying the warm weather. And although sunshine is good for the body, excessive amounts of sun can be detrimental to one’s health.
Too often beach goers find it hard to differentiate a healthy amount of Vitamin D and overexposure to the sun, and while some sun may be desirable, moderation is the key to maintaining not only healthy skin, but also a bright future.
Maintaining a tan often becomes nothing more than a trend, as portrayed by cast members of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” who present an unhealthy obsession with dark skin, condoning a habit of exposing skin to too much sun and harmful UV rays.
Sun converts chemicals already existing in the body into Vitamin D, an essential element to one’s overall health. A large amount, however, can damage the tissue, causing leathery skin, deep indentations and skin cancer.
Unaware of the lifelong effects of sunburns, many college students feel apathetic in regards to overexposure, as though skin cancer is not a reality that could potentially affect their lives.
Derek Reynolds, freshman chemistry major, went to the beach for spring break.
“I got really sunburned at the beach and it peeled, but it was totally worth it,” Reynolds said. “I’d rather be tan now and have skin cancer later.”
Paul Mayer, director of Health Services, said, “No amount of ‘beach tan’ is OK, according to the experts. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear SPF 30 sunscreen or more and never use indoor tanning booths.”
Mayer also said skin cancer is a huge danger. It is not always as simple as having a spot removed; it can often be terminal. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and can potentially spread to the rest of the body, resulting in the need for radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
Rather than spending all day in the sun and getting sunburned, it is better to get exposed to the sun in small doses. However, if one cannot avoid it, always wear sunscreen.
Sunburn can often be unexpected, especially on overcast days. Dana Wilhite, Union’s Instructor of Nursing, recommends keeping a sunburned area cool, using moisturizers such as aloe and leaving any blisters undamaged.
As far as artificial and “controlled” tanning at a salon, there is really no need to go to the tanning bed anymore, as a lot of effective spray tans are available that do not give the same orange tint to skin that is often associated with indoor tanning booths.
Mayer lived in South Korea during the mid-eighties, where dark skin color held different connotation.
“Light skin meant you didn’t have to work in the fields,” Mayer said. “There it’s considered beautiful to have pale skin.”