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The Importance of Wearing Sunscreen to Prevent Skin Cancer

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020 by Dr. Christopher Crosby

One of the best things you can do for the health and appearance of your skin is to protect it from the sun’s harmful rays. As we prepare to welcome the warm, sunny days of summer, the team at Grossmont Dermatology Medical Clinic encourages you to practice safe-sun habits when spending time outdoors. These habits help lower the risk of immediate reactions like sunburns and more serious, long-term damage like skin cancer.

Skin cancer is a major public health concern. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, causes 20 deaths in the U.S. every day.

Protect Yourself By Wearing Sunscreen

Using sunscreen significantly reduces the risk of developing skin cancer. Sunscreen contains filters that reflect, scatter or absorb UV radiation to prevent it from reaching your skin.

Sunscreens are categorized as chemical or physical. Chemical (“organic”) sunscreens have filters that absorb UV rays, convert them to heat and release them from the body; the AAD compares chemical sunscreens to a sponge. Physical (“inorganic”) sunscreens are more like a shield, as they reflect the sun’s rays. Both are safe to use.

Every sunscreen contains a sun protection factor (SPF), which is a measure of how well the product will protect you from the sun’s UVB rays, or the rays that damage the surface of your skin. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means that if it usually takes 10 minutes for your unprotected skin to burn in the sun, the sunscreen protects your skin 30 times longer than that (for 300 minutes, or 5 hours).

Sunscreen Tips

Apply sunscreen daily — even on cool or cloudy days — to skin that isn’t covered by clothing. The rule of thumb for adults is to use approximately 1 ounce, or a shot glass worth, of sunscreen to cover the entire body. Don’t forget commonly missed areas such as the neck, lips, ears, tops of the feet and backs of the hands.

Don’t wait until you get to the beach or the pool to apply your sunscreen. Apply it ahead of time. If you wear makeup, apply sunscreen under your makeup.

If you will be outside for a long time, reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you swim or sweat, reapply more frequently.

Sunscreen is most effective when combined with other safe-sun practices. For instance, protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts and pants or long skirts help shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Hats and sunscreen also provide extra protection.  Seeking shade under a tree or umbrella during peak sunlight hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) will further reduce your risk of sun damage.

Contact Our Dermatology Team

For more information about choosing a sunscreen or taking extra precautions to protect your skin from the sun, please contact Grossmont Dermatology Medical Clinic today.

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology