It is essential to protect your skin from the sun to prevent skin cancers. Almost all basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas are related to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. There are many steps that can be taken to protect yourself from these harmful rays.
Sunscreens protect the skin from the sun’s UV radiation. Two types of radiation from the sun can cause skin cancers: UVA and UVB . Choosing a sunscreen that protects against both types of UV radiation is essential in preventing UV damage and skin cancer. These sunscreens are known as “broad spectrum” sunscreens. Even though some of our sun damage occurs during childhood, UV damage continues to accumulate over a lifetime, and sun protection is still important. The following tips will help you choose the best sunscreen for you:
- Use broad spectrum sunscreens that have SPF of 30 or higher.
- Reapply often (2-3 hours, or every 45 minutes if swimming or excessively sweating).
- Physical blockers are best. These sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient.
- Most sunscreens need to be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure.
- Make sure to apply approximately 1 oz for a full body application of sunscreen each time you apply (approximately 1 shot glass full).
Sunscreen is not the only tool we have to protect ourselves from the sun. Sun avoidance is key, especially during peak hours of the day (10 am-4 pm). Seek the shade when possible. When in the sun, in addition to sunscreen, wide brimmed hats and long sleeves are recommended for an additional barrier from the sun’s rays. Some clothing lines now offer SPF protection in them. For more information on sun protection and sunscreens, please see our useful links section.
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