Most people cannot avoid going outdoors to perform a number of errands on a day-to-day basis. This means that they expose parts of their skin to the harmful UV rays of the sun. Overexposure of skin to the sun has adverse consequences including sunburns, wrinkling, premature skin aging, and skin cancer (including melanoma). The World Health organization through the Internal Agency of Research on Cancer has also announced that artificial sources like sun lamps and tanning beds are also carcinogenic. Sunscreen application remains the best option to curb this problem.

Here is some information to guide you on the importance of applying sunscreen on your skin to protect it from the sun.

What is sunscreen?

A sunscreen is a product combining a number of ingredients that prevent the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun from reaching the skin. The two types of UV rays including UVA and UVB damage the skin and increase skin cancer risk. UVB is the real culprit regarding sunburn assisted by UVA which cause deep penetration on the skin causing lathering, wrinkling, photo aging and sagging. Sunscreens have different abilities in protecting both types of UV rays.

Who requires sunscreen?

Because anybody can get skin cancer regardless of race, age or gender, sunscreen is a product suitable for everyone. Even those that stay in the office all day long are exposed to a certain amount of the sun’s rays that escape through the windows or doors. Research has shown that one in every five Americans have a probability of developing skin cancer in their lifetime. To work against this doomed finding, people from all works of life should use sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun. If you ignore the importance of sunscreen, melanoma may just catch up with you.

Choosing the type of sunscreen to use

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, any sunscreen that offers protection from both the UVA and UVB rays is highly recommended. Although many people can do well with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating of 15, the recommended SPF rating should be above 30 just to be on the safe side. When going to the beach, a water resistant sunscreen is good for you. The exact kind of sunscreen you choose to purchase entirely depends on your personal taste and preference and the area of application on the body. The options available in the market include gels, ointments, lotions, creams, sprays and wax sticks.

How to wear sunscreen

To get maximum results from sunscreen, you need to apply approximately 1 oz (shot glass full) on the exposed parts of your body. Research shows that many people only apply half to quarter the required amount leading to low SPF ratings. If you are headed to the beach for the whole day, you need 4 oz to protect your skin properly. Application should happen 30 minutes before exposure to the sun in order to allow the sunscreen’s ingredients to bind on the skin fully. This is followed by subsequent reapplication after every two hours. Reapplication is also mandatory after swimming, sweating profusely and towelling off.

Is it safe to use sunscreen?

Science supports the use of sunscreen to curb both short term and long term effects of damaged skin due to UV rays of the sun. Sunscreen applications outweigh previous unproven assertions that ingredients used in sunscreens are toxic and therefore a health hazard to the public.

Sunscreen application may not be 100% effective in protecting your skin from UV rays. You need to take other measures such as eating diets rich in vitamin D, taking caution when dealing with snow, water and sand, seeking shade when the sun is too hot, avoiding tanning your skin and wearing protective clothing.

Checkout Dr. Lorne Albrecht’s interview below on CTV news on the issue of summer sun care myths debunked.