Sunscreen is always a good idea. We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen when we spend time outside, but did you know that you should wear sun protection daily? Yes, even if you stay inside. Even if you only go outside for a few minutes. Even during winter. And, yes, even on cloudy days. Without sun protection, your skin could sustain unnecessary damage from sun exposure. Wearing sunscreen has many benefits, most of all, it can prevent premature aging, reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation, and help prevent skin cancers.
Each time you venture outdoors you expose your skin to damaging UV rays and your risk of developing skin cancer increases with unprotected skin exposure.
Clothing does provide some protection and many companies now manufacture “sun protection” cross the barrier provided by clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF). The UPF indicates the fraction of UV rays that can cross the protective barrier provided by the fabric. For example, a UPF of 60 allows 1/60th of the sun’s rays to penetrate the fabric. However, there are still certain areas of the skin that remain fully exposed.
As we know, the face and hands are the most exposed area of the body. It is not only melanoma we are concerned with, but also the premature aging that UV rays cause, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, which contribute to making us appear older. According to a report from the Melanoma Network of Canada, melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer found in young adults aged 15 to 29 and 30 to 49. These numbers confirm the need to apply daily sun protection.
Not convinced? Here are a few facts about melanoma:
- It takes only one blistering sunburn to double a person’s chances of developing melanoma.
- 90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- You are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have fair skin, red/blonde hair, or a family history of melanoma, or if your skin is excessively exposed to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
- Early exposure to tanning beds or even occasional use can increase a person’s chances of developing melanoma by 75%.
- The survival rate for melanoma is high if detected early and, unlike many cancers, melanoma is clearly visible on the skin.
So now what? Here is your SPF checklist: