Protecting our Skin is a Critical Health Factor
It is commonly believed that in our youth the majority of damaging sun exposure to our skin has already occurred. Scientific studies report that in fact only about 23 percent of lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18, and not quite 50% by age forty. Protecting our skin from harmful UV rays is necessary for our health every day, regardless of our age. As reported in a research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in June 2013, “People who use sunscreen daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.”
While beautiful skin is a great outcome, the ultimate goal of skin protection is to prevent skin cancer. According the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2015, an estimated 73,870 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015. With early detection and treatment, melanoma is normally curable.
To avoid skin cancer and other skin issues, it is important to understand that sunscreen alone is only one aspect of a broader strategy necessary to protect our skin properly.
Broader Skin Protection Strategies
Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however.
-Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
-Do not burn.
-Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
-Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
-Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB)sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
-Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
-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.
-See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
Skin Cancer Foundation
The Best Way to Stop Sunburn
Whether you’re kicking summer off at the beach, pool, backyard barbecue, or baseball game, you need to shield your skin from UV damage.
Luckily, being sunwise is quite simple. Just use a water-resistant (to 80 minutes) sunscreen, apply it 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure (most sunscreens need to be absorbed into the skin before they’re effective), and reapply every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily.
Remember to cover any areas that will be exposed; often-overlooked spots include the back of the neck, tops of ears, bald heads, tops of feet, and swimsuit edges. (Applying sunscreen before getting dressed will help avoid this last one-but let it dry before you put on your suit. Most sunscreens stain fabric.)
Opt for a broad-brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses. And if you’re heading to the beach or pool, don’t forget the cover-up!
Research shows that people who rely on sunscreens alone tend to burn more than those who stay in the shade and wear long sleeves. Try to avoid the sun or stay in the shade when the sun is the strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and dress right for the occasion. Wear a hat and clothing that’s made from tightly woven fabric. (Dark colors are better at blocking UV rays.) Hold clothing up to the light; if you can see through it, the UV rays can get through, too.
Full article in Consumer Reports
When using sunscreen:
Use enough. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. For lotions, a good rule of thumb is a teaspoon per body part or area: 1 teaspoon for your face, head, and neck; 1 for each arm; 1 for each leg; 1 for your chest and abdomen; and 1 for your back and the back of your neck. For sprays, apply as much as can be rubbed in, then repeat. Regardless of which kind you use, reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Use spray sunscreens carefully. The FDA has said it is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens. Until we know more, our experts say to avoid using sprays on children, and do not spray them directly on your face. Instead, spray sunscreen onto your hands then apply it to your face. Sprays are flammable, so let them dry before going near an open flame.
Full article in Consumer Reports
5 Sunscreen Myths
What Is Melanoma?
The most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 9,940 people in the U.S. annually.
If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, more than 135,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2015, an estimated 73,870 of these will be invasive melanomas, with about 42,670 in males and 31,200 in women.
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation