Sun protection at an age is important to prevent the short term and long term damaging effects of sunlight. Not only does the sun cause skin cancer, it is the number one cause of premature aging. Overexposure to sunlight can exacerbate wrinkles, age spots, dilated blood vessels and changes in the texture of the skin that make the skin look older. Skin conditions such as lupus can worsen with prolonged sun exposure. And, if you are taking certain medications, such as antibiotics, high blood pressure medicines, or retinoids, your skin is much more sensitive the sun.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUNSCREEN?
The key to “BROAD SPECTRUM” sun protection is to find ingredients that protect against UVA AND UVB.
- Look for a product with a minimum SPF of 30 to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
- Look for ingredients such as Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Parsol (Avobenzone), Mexoryl, or Helioplex to protect against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays which penetrate more deeply into the skin and are responsible for premature aging and contribute to the development of skin cancer.
SUN PROTECTION GUIDELINES
- Use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher!
- Use it daily! 80% of skin cancers occur on the head and neck, mostly due to day-to-day exposure to the sun. Put it on in the morning after you brush your teeth.
- Apply generously!! 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen is needed to cover the entire body. As a rule of thumb, a pea size should cover an area about the size of your palm.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to significant sun exposure
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and more often if you are swimming, exercising, or sweating
- Seek the Shade — Minimize sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 3pm
- Avoid Tanning Beds!!
- Cover up — Wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
SUN PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
Sun protective clothing and hats are a great way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays while allowing you to enjoy the warmth of the sun. But not all clothing is created equal. As a rule, light-colored, lightweight and loosely-woven fabrics offers minimal protection from the sun. For example, white cotton T-shirts provides an average ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 7. A green cotton T-shirt offers an UPF of 10. On the other hand, a thicker fabric such as velvet may provide a UPF of 50.
HIGH TECH CLOTHING
Fortunately, newer high-tech clothing are light weight and breathable while offering protection against UVA and UVB. These clothes have been specially treated with UV absorbing dyes that provide UPF of 50+. Click below for some suggested brands of clothing.
SUN PROTECTIVE LAUNDRY ADDITIVE
Alternatively, if you prefer to not buy special garments, you can wash sun protection into your own clothes! A laundry additive, Sun Guard, containsthe sunscreen Tinosorb. When added to a detergent, it increases the UPF of the clothing, and this protection lasts through 20 washings.
To read more about this subject, see our news article about the Changes in Sunscreen Labeling. More information regarding the new and proposed labeling changes, including the types of sunscreen products affected by these changes, can be found on the FDA Website. And here’s an article about some common myths on sun exposure.
If you would like more information about sun protection, please call us at 216-844-8200 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Popkin at the University Hospitals at Westlake.