One in every five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that reach the earth – UVA rays and UVB rays can both lead to sun damage, aging of the skin, and skin cancer. UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots and can pass through window glass. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass. The sun emits these harmful rays year round. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate the skin. On a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds.
The US department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds, as a known carcinogen. There is no safe way to tan. Every time you tan, you damage your skin. Over time, the damage accelerates the aging of the skin and increases your risk for all types of skin cancer.
How to Protect Your Skin
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone:
– Seeks shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10am and 4pm.
– Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hate and sunglasses, where possible.
– Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. Broad Spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
– Avoid tanning beds.
How to Use Sunscreen
– One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, in considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body.
– Apply sunscreen to dry skin, 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
– To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
– Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating heavily, according to the directions on the bottle.
What to Look For in a Sunscreen
As of December 2012, the FDA now requires sunscreen labels to provide consumers with information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer, in addition to sunburn. New labels also indicate whether or not the product is water resistant. Cream sunscreens are best for dry skin and the face. Gel sunscreens are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest. Sunscreen sticks are good to use around the eyes. Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Make sure to use enough of these products to cover the entire surface area thoroughly, and do not inhale these products. It still takes one ounce of product (full shot glass) to cover an adult, less accordingly for a child. There are sunscreens specifically made for sensitive skin (chemical free) and babies.
Our office carries a wide variety of sunscreen for all skin types and skin issues. Please stop by our Aderma Medical Spa to see what we have and to help determine which sunscreen would be best for you.