Fun in the Sun without the Burn!
Did you know that about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun?*
Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention, so it's important to learn how to protect yourself to stay safe in the sun!
Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Sunscreen!
Sunscreens combine several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin.
The two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB so check the labels.
SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.
Here's how it works: if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening for 15 times longer – or about five hours.
Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
To ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply one ounce – about a shot glass full! Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised.
Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin.
Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.
Sunscreen Alone Doesn’t Cut It!
Sunscreen – and proper application – is just one component of a complete sun protection regimen. Here are additional tips to keep in mind:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn. Do your very best to avoid ever getting a sunburn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. There are many fabrics with built-in UV protection.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. Ask someone to help you check those hard-to-see places.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
So enjoy the sun – but be sun smart when it comes to protecting your skin!
* according to the Skin Cancer Foundation