As more and more individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer, medical professionals are urging the public to take the proper precautions to prevent sun damage. and protect themselves from a potentially deadly disease. Because in addition to concerns about aging skin - wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots and blemishes - which are more inconvenient than unhealthy, the sun is also responsible for skin cancer.
As we age, we have had more exposure to the sun over a longer period of time and there are things that we can do to not only keep our skin looking and healthy, but also to avoid skin cancer. Here are just a few of the things you can do to protect yourself from the sun and its harmful rays.
The most important thing you can do is to ensure that you are wearing sunscreen or sunblock whenever you go outside. While it is common knowledge to put it on when at the beach or pool, it is just important that you put it on yourself when you are outside or anywhere that you may be exposed to the sun; for example sitting next to a window or driving your car.
This is just as valid on cloudy days or during the middle of winter, when most people forget about the harmful impact of the sun due to the cold. However, sun rays can cause more damage during these times, as the rays bounce off the clouds and snow instead of being absorbed by the ground. And at this time of the year, it’s the UVA rays rather than the UVB rays that we need to be concerned about. This is why it is important year round to take the necessary steps to protect your skin and prevent sun damage.
When you do use a sunscreen or sunblock you will need to ensure it meets two requirements.
First, it should protect your precious skin from both UVA and UVB rays, as these are both harmful types of rays emitted from the sun. UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns and skin cancer, while UVA rays age an individual through wrinkles, dark spots, and hardened or sagging skin. Many sunscreens don’t protect from UVA rays, so ensure that yours does. Secondly, you will need to choose a sunscreen or sunblock with a minimum of an SPF of 15. An SPF 15 sunblock will protect you from 93% of the sun rays, while higher SPF’s protect, such as SPF30 protect you slightly more at 97%.
It is also important when you are out in the sun to consider reapplying your sunscreen periodically. This is especially necessary if you are sweating a lot or in and out of the water while in the sun. Even if your sunscreen states that it is sweatproof or waterproof, you should reapply. In doing so, you will help prevent sun damage to your skin.
Another tip to prevent sun damage is to limit the amount of time you are exposed to the sun each day. The best ways to do this include seeking shade or covering up with hats or other clothing. Also limit the time you spend in the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., when the sun is highest in the sky and emitting rays most likely to cause sunburns, skin cancer or premature aging. The more you protect your skin from the sun, the more you will prevent sun damage. If you do have to be out during these hours and can’t avoid the sun, it is essential that you wear Mexoryl sunblock or sunscreen.
These are just a few tips of how to protect your skin and prevent sun damage. Your dermatologist can provide you with even more, as well as check any spots, sores or moles for possible skin cancer. Early detection is key, but prevention, by protecting yourself from the sun is even better.