Sun Safety – What You Need to Know

Protect your skin from UVB rays and UVA rays. Just because it doesn’t appear to be a sunny day doesn’t mean you are not exposed to the damaging rays of the sun.

According to the American Cancer Society, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the US than all other cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Regular use of an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen dramatically reduces that risk.

Below are the basics you need to know.

There are two types of sun rays:

• UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn and contribute to the development of skin cancer.

• UVA rays are the ones that lead to tanning and cause your skin to look aged and wrinkled. The shortest UVA rays also play a hand in causing sunburn.

The majority of melanoma (skin cancer) is caused by the sun. You need to protect yourself as much as you can. Use a sunscreen with SPF when you are exposed to the sun. It is easy to do and so important. If you are confused by the variety of sunscreen available, the following will help when you are deciding which one to use

What to look for in an SPF:

• The SPF number – this relates to the UVB protection it provides.

• The phrase “broad spectrum” – this means it helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

The number of SPF is important:

The higher the amount of SPF the longer it takes for the sun’s UV rays to make your skin red when using the sunscreen according to directions vs. how long it would take to get sunburned without any SPF protection. An SPF 50 would take 50 times longer to cause sunburn than if you didn’t wear any SPF at all. An SPF of 50 only allows about 2 percent An SPF 30 allows 50 percent more UV radiation than an SPF of 50.

Be aware:

Don’t think that just because you have on SPF, you can stay out in the sun as long as you want. You must reapply as directed. It is also prudent to look for shade and use protective items like a hat or even use an umbrella. If you have a family history of high-risk skin cancer, certain genetic diseases like albinism or particular immune disorders like Lupus, an SPF 50 may not be enough protection. Also, consider the activity you are performing – like hiking at a high altitude or laying out in the sun at a location closer to the equator.

A water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Remember to apply as directed, which is usually half an hour before sun exposure and again every two hours, or immediately after swimming.

With the sunshine of summertime in San Diego, it is even more important to take time to apply sunscreen before enjoying the outdoors. Invest in a wide-brimmed hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, and clothing that help cover your skin. Protecting yourself from the damaging rays of the sun doesn’t just reduce your risk for future skin cancer it helps your skin look younger too!

Sunscreen and Seniors:

As we get older, our skin becomes thinner. We lose fat and the water content diminishes. Thinner skin allows more UV light through. Adding to that problem, the body isn’t as able to repair damage as it used to be.

The most UV-intense times are from 10am to 4pm. Try to avoid extended sun exposure during these times by planning for early morning activities or things you can do in the early evening. When you do go outside, try to stay in the shade. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and wear protective clothing and accessories.

Know Your Skin

Be aware of your skin. If you see any growths that look out of the ordinary, contact your dermatologist. Early discovery of skin cancer gives you the best chance at treating it. Look for any growths that may have multiple colors, an irregular border, or have increased in size.