Wednesday, May 29

Avoid the Burn

By Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

Most folks don’t worry too much over the occasional sunburn, but receiving more than five sunburns in your life doubles your chances of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, says the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Coupled with the fact that more 42% of the population gets sunburned once a year, it’s easy to see why skin cancers diagnoses outnumber all other types of cancers combined.  

Develop your own sun-smart skin care routine:

Wear sunscreen every day. Treat applying sunscreen like your brushing your teeth—it’s just something you do before you leave the house, every day. Sunscreen ensures your skin is protected from UV rays during short outings, not just a day at the pool, and the UVA rays that penetrate glass.

Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to going outside, and use sunscreen that has at least 15 SPF.

Know your sunscreen. As SPF ratings increase, protection increases only minimally. For example, sunscreen with 15 SPF will block 93% of UVB rays, while a 30 SPF sunscreen blocks 97%. (SPF rankings indicate only the percentage of UVB rays blocked. UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. Most of us are exposed to large amounts of less intense of UVA rays, which are present during all daylight hours all year; protection requires such specific ingredients as
avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide.)

Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and shade highly exposed areas (nose, ears, cheeks and back of the neck) with hats or scarves when possible.

Minimize sun exposure during the peak sun hours of the day, 10 
4 p.m.

Protect sensitive skin with children’s sunscreens, which use less irritating ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike chemical ingredients, these protect the skin without being absorbed.

Know that medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about this possible side effect.

What age group is at the highest risk of UV exposure? Take the sun blunders quiz to find out!

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

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