Why Sunscreen Is Important
Many people think they only need to use sun protection during the summer time. This is not the case. Over 90% of the visible changes in the skin are caused by sun damage, which is why sunscreen is important year-round. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can harm the skin in several ways such as:
- Pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions
- Benign tumors
- Mottled pigmentation
- Yellow discoloration
- Destruction of collagen
- Dilation of blood vessels lying beneath the skin
Understanding skin cancer
Skin cancer involves the abnormal growth of skin cells. Such rapid growth leads to the development of tumors, which may be benign or malignant. The three main types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. 95% of all cancers are made up to the latter two types, which are less serious than melanoma. They can also be treated relatively easily. Melanoma, on the other hand, is much more serious and is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer fatalities. The number one cause of skin cancer is UV rays from the sun.
Protecting skin from the outside in
The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to prevent sunburn by avoiding sun exposure as much as possible. Most health practitioners recommend staying out of the sun from 10am until 4pm. People who cannot avoid going outside, should always wear sunscreen and try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Individuals who are skiing or doing other outdoor activities in the snow should also wear sunscreen. Snow reflects UV radiation, so all exposed skin should be covered. Particular attention should be paid to the areas under the chin, behind the ears, and under the tip of the nose.
How often to use sunscreen
Whatever the season, thirty minutes before going outdoors, all exposed areas of skin should be covered with a generous application of sunscreen. This allows plenty of time for the sunscreen’s ingredients to bind to the skin. Dermatologists recommend replenishing sunscreen every two hours. People who are swimming should reapply sunscreen as soon as they get out of the water.
To minimize the risk of skin cancer, sunblock should be worn outdoors whatever the season. People with very fair or sensitive skin should use a risk protection factor of at least 30.