We have all heard about the dangers of the sun, but did you know skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, and this number is growing due to increased ultraviolet exposure from the sun and tanning beds.
Still not convinced you need to lather up before your next outing?
8 Reasons Wearing Sunscreen is Important
1. It decreases your risk of developing deadly cancer.
Using sunscreen daily, even when it is cloudy or raining, dramatically decreases your risk of developing skin cancer. This is especially true of the deadliest form, melanoma, which is responsible for the majority of all skin cancer deaths in Iowa.
2. It keeps you looking young.
Did you know the number-one cause of premature aging of the face is ultraviolet exposure? By wearing sunscreen, you are slowing down the development of wrinkles and leathery skin.
3. Sunscreen keeps your skin tone even.
In addition to slowing aging of the skin, sunscreen prevents facial brown spots and skin discolorations.
4. The ozone layer is depleting.
The ozone acts as a sun shield for the earth by absorbing harmful UVB rays before they reach the ground. As the ozone layer depletes, your body needs added protection from these harmful rays.
5. Wearing sunscreen sets an example for your kids.
By the time children are 18, children will have racked up a lot of time in the sun. Help protect them, and yourself, by making sun safety a priority.
6. Sunscreen is important for all skin types.
Even if you don’t burn easily, wearing sunscreen is still important. Sunburn is an immediate reaction, but sun damage occurs over a lifetime. Although skin cancer is more prevalent in people with lighter skin, it does not discriminate and can still affect those with darker skin.
7. Sunscreen is more convenient than ever.
It isn’t inconvenient! With so many sunscreen options, including sprays and sunscreen that is built into moisturizer, applying sunscreen is more convenient than ever. Just be sure to reapply every two hours and after a swim or heavily sweating, even if you are using the water-resistant kind.
8. Sunscreen protects you from more than sunburn.
If you have ever had sunburn, you understand just how unpleasant red, burning skin can be. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are two other extremely nasty health issues that can arise from extended sun exposure. Sunscreen, in combination with other precautions such as increased consumption of water, can help you avoid these issues, which can lead to nausea, muscle cramps and even brain damage if left untreated.
Selecting the Right Sunscreen
In addition to traditional lotions that have been around for decades, some newer types of sunscreens have been introduced and should be taken into consideration when selecting the right type for you and your family. While there is no perfect sunscreen, selecting one that you like is the key motivating factor for regular use. Here are a few kinds to consider depending on skin type and sun exposure:
• Spray – Spray sunscreen can be more convenient than lotions, especially for parents applying sunscreen for children. If you do choose a spray, be sure to use a generous and even coating and apply more frequently.
• Built-in Sunscreen – Some moisturizers, lipsticks and foundations contain sunscreen. These are perfect for days when you will not be spending much time outdoors and are good for everyday protection. If you do plan on spending a lot of time in the sun, be sure to use a secondary source of sun protection.
• Mineral – Mineral or hypoallergenic sunscreens are now available for those with sensitive skin. These types of sunscreens sit on the skin instead of being absorbed into it, providing you protection without irritation.
• Sweat- or Water-Resistant – Although water-resistant and sweat-resistant sunscreens are not 100% waterproof, they are specifically formulated to stay on the skin even after getting wet. It is important to reapply every two hours or after getting out of the water.
• Stick – Sunscreen sticks are perfect for spot application, such as your nose and ears. These areas are important and are among the areas most commonly affected by skin cancer.
When selecting a sunscreen, purchase one with an SPF of 30 or higher. You should also select broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen as it is designed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Be aware of ingredients to avoid in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, especially if pregnant.
Skin Cancer and Early Detection
It is never too late to start integrating safe-sun practices into your life. In addition to wearing sunscreen, you can help protect yourself from harmful rays by wearing a hat, sunglasses, sun-protective clothing and by limiting your sun exposure, especially during the most intense times of the day from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Spotting skin abnormalities early is also crucial in the fight against skin cancer, so we suggest performing a self-skin examination once a month. If you do spot one of these abnormalities, consult your physician or dermatologist for a complete skin examination. If you have questions about a skin cancer screening, you can also call John Stoddard Cancer Center at (515) 241-4141.