Are You Sunscreen Savvy?
It’s hard to escape the barrage of skin cancer education that is presented, particular at this time of year. And why would you want to! Skin cancer continues to be a prevalent problem for Americans, and statistics are demonstrating that abnormal lesions are appearing on younger and younger skin. The fact is, we are all susceptible to sun damage, including skin cancer, which means we need to be as sunscreen-savvy as we can get.
Good sun habits are the primary way to decrease the risk of premature aging and medical conditions related to UV exposure. Clearly, we cannot change our lifestyle to such a degree that we only go outdoors at night. Again, why would you want to do that! We crave the sunshine! We need it for health! But we need it in small doses at non-peak hours (before 10 am and after 4 pm. And we also need it from beneath the shield of sunscreen. The issue here is, are you using it correctly?
Common Sunscreen Fails
- Using too little. Applying large amounts of any lotion can feel, well, “icky.” When it’s already hot out, the last thing you want is for beads of sweat to sit on skin that has been moistened with sunscreen lotion. Get used to it. Most areas of the body need at least 1 full teaspoon of product for adequate protection. This includes the back, stomach, chest, each arm, each leg, and the face. ONE TEASPOON each!
- Using the wrong product. The more research that is conducted, the more we realize that not all products are created equal. The Environmental Working Group has developed an expansive resource for consumers looking for the best sunscreen. The most efficient sunscreen is “broad-spectrum,” meaning that both UVA and UVB rays are filtered. More information from the EWG can be found here. Using the wrong product also means wearing makeup with SPF, rather than applying a quality sunscreen in addition to cosmetics.
- Going into the sun too quickly. Sun exposure should occur no sooner than 30 minutes after applying sunscreen. Translation: apply at home, not at the pool or beach!
- Using an expired product. Check your packaging! There is an expiration date! Expiration means more than losing effectiveness. An expired sunscreen could behave differently, causing harm to the skin.
- Neglecting certain body-parts. Remember the tops of your feet and toes, the backs of your hands, your ears, your neck, and even your scalp.
- Once-and-done. A single application of sunscreen will only provide a few hours of protection. And that’s if you don’t get wet! Reapply every 1 to 2 hours to gain the greatest benefit.
Acclaim Dermatology provides all levels of skin cancer treatment, from screening to removal. Call (832) 770-6388 to schedule a visit in our Sugar Land office.