It’s a known fact you should protect your skin from the sun, but living in a sunny state like Texas often means it can be difficult to escape the sun and its harmful rays. From birthday parties to field trips, to something as simple as walking your dog, it’s impossible to avoid the sun completely. Skin cancer and skin damage such as age spots and wrinkles are directly linked to sun exposure, so adequate protection is of utmost importance. Statistics show only about 30% of women and less than 15% of men regularly use sunscreen on their face and body, and one in five Americans develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Sun protection, however, often means more than just applying sunscreen once a day and never thinking about it again — especially if you are enduring intense sun exposure for an extended amount of time. This fact alone might compel you to ask yourself what measures you are taking to fight potential skin damage. Here are some essential tips on how to have fun in the sun without endangering your skin:
The Base Tan MythFirst off, there’s no such thing as a “base tan,” so the mentality that a good burn before you go on a beach trip will lessen your skin damage is totally false. In fact, no tan brought on by being out in the sun is a good tan. ALWAYS wear sunscreen, and never intentionally “fry” to avoid burns down the road!
Waterproof SunscreenOnly buy sunscreen that is waterproof, protects against UVA and UVB radiation, and is at least SPF 30. Lesser SPF sunscreens may prevent sunburn, but will not adequately block against the harmful solar radiation that causes skin cancer (UVB) or wrinkles (UVA). This also applies to lip balm.
Overcast WeatherUse sunscreen every day; even when the sun doesn’t appear to be shining. On cloudy or rainy days, clouds only block around 20% of harmful UV rays. Even in dreary weather, skin protection is a must, since uncovered skin is still exposed to 80% of harmful rays.
ReapplicationIf you are outside for an extended period of time, you should reapply broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen every two hours, or every hour if you are swimming or sweating.
Protective ClothingWear dark, close-knit or sun-protective long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses with 100% UV absorption whenever possible.
Limit ExposureLimit your sun exposure during the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the most powerful. If you are outdoors during those prime sun times, seek shade as much and as often as you can.
ResearchResearch the UV index in your respective location. This index is rated from 1 to 11, with 11 emitting extremely harmful UV rays if exposed. A simple Google search can provide this information and can give you an indication of how much protective clothing and sunscreen you will need for the day.
Consult Your Doctor
Consider any medications you might be taking that could increase your skin’s sensitivity. Some medications make your skin more susceptible to sunburns, so always check with your provider about any prescriptions that may make your skin extra sensitive.
Having fun in the sun is entirely possible, but always be aware of ways you can be protecting your skin from sun damage. Even utilizing all of these tips, certain people can be more prone to skin cancers genetically. It’s important to always self-monitor for any new or changing moles or freckles on the skin. Here at Collins, we provide comprehensive skin cancer screenings and can offer top of the line sunscreens to give you the best prevention plan possible. Book an appointment with us today at 512.379.6090!