Protection Against Sun Damage Oct 29, 2019 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
The easiest way to prevent skin cancer is by using sunscreen. Most skin cancers are caused by too much UV exposure, mostly from the sun but also from other human sources, such as sunlamps and tanning beds.
The two major kinds of UV rays that cause skin damage are UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are typically more energetic and associated with a greater risk of skin cancer, but UVA rays can also be dangerous. In short, there are no safe UV rays, so you should try to protect yourself from all of them. UV rays can cause cancer by damaging the DNA in your cells, causing them to multiply out of control and create malignant tumors.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to protect your face from sun damage. From sunscreen to limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun, there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Use Sunscreen Every Day
Even if it is cloudy outside, you should use a bit on sunscreen every day. UV rays are different than visible light rays, so they can penetrate through the clouds and we cannot see them. Even on days when it is cold, you can still get sunburnt, as UV rays are not directly related to heat.
To apply sunscreen appropriately, use about 1 ounce (a shot glass or palmful) to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face of the average adult.
Apply Sunscreen Every Two Hours
When you are out and about, make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Make sure you cover sensitive areas, such as your ears, lips, and the tops of the feet. Even if you do not feel like you need to reapply, be diligent. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating. Even if your sunscreen is a high SPF, that does not mean you can go longer without reapplying.
Choose Broad-Spectrum Sunblock
Make sure to pick a broad-spectrum sunblock that guards against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure the sunscreen is at least SPF 30 or higher and water-resistant. Sunscreens that have a high SPF but no UVB protection will prevent sunburn, but they won’t reduce the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens come as lotions, creams, ointments, gels, wipes, and balms. Even some cosmetics, like lipstick and foundation, have sunscreen properties. Be careful when using these products though, as they are not as protective as regular sunscreen.
Be Careful Around Water and Sand
Both water and sand reflect UV rays and increase the chance of skin damage, so you need to be careful around those surfaces.
Limit Time Spent in the Sun
Try to limit the total amount of time you spend in the sun. If you are working outside, take regular breaks in the shade. The sun is normally the hottest and most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be the most careful during those times. Keep tabs on your shadow; if it is shorter than you, the sun is too intense, and you should find shade.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
If you are going to be spending an extended period in the sun, make sure to dress appropriately for the situation. Long-sleeved shirts and pants can protect you from the brunt of the damage, and dark-colored clothing blocks more UV radiation than light-colored clothing. Consider keeping a pair of shades and a hat on hand to protect your eyes, face, and neck.
Watch for Medications
Some medications, like some kinds of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and anti-fungals, can make you more sensitive to the sun’s rays, so make sure to consult with your doctor if you are taking any medications.