Protect Yourself from Sunburn

Saturday, June 9, 2012

We have all heard the statistics of skin cancer, and how dismal a disease it is.  We have been taught that our ozone allows certain dangerous sun rays to come in, damaging our skin.  We have also been taught that we need to layer on the sun screen in order to protect our fragile skin from the sun’s harmful effects.  However, there are some sunscreen and SPF myths that we need to consider this summer before venturing out in the sun.

What typical questions come to mind when you think about sunscreen?  Here is a sample of questions that you might be asking yourself; what is in a number anyhow, what is the difference between SPF 15 and SPF 50?  Do kids really need to have a sunscreen higher than SPF 50?  What kind of skin types need SPF higher than 15?  How do you know what kind of sunscreen to buy?  Where does sunscreen need to be applied?  How do I know when to reapply sunscreen?  What if I have dark skin?  Do I still need sunscreen, isn’t covering up good enough?  I want to get a tan should I still wear sunscreen?

If you have asked just one of those questions, you may not be alone in understanding the need for sunscreen.

Here are some myths about sunscreen that you need to be aware about:

  • Only those with fair skin need to wear sunscreen – all skin types need to protect against the sun.  However, some may not need as high a SPF due to the increased melanin in their skin.  It is recommended that all skin types need a minimum of SPF 15. 

  • One application is enough for prolonged sun exposure.  Applied sunscreen degrades after time and sunscreen can come off with sweat, water and even rubbing against clothes.  Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 to 3 hours.

  • All sun rays cause sun burns.  UVB (ultraviolet B) rays cause sunburns while UVA (Ultraviolet A)rays can damage collagen (the elastic material in our skin that keeps it firm, and collagen protects us against skin cancer).  Windows block UVB rays so you can’t get a sunburn, but they let in UVA rays (which can still damage your skin).

  • The higher the sunscreen SPF number the better it will be.  SPF 15 protects against 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 protects against 97% UVB rays, SPF 100 only increases to about 99% of SPF.  Sunscreen also has to protect against UVA rays (the rays that cause skin cancer).  So make sure that there are ingredients in your sunscreen to protect against these rays (i.e. zinc oxide, titanium dioxide).

  • Sunscreen can be effective when applied in the direct sunlight.  Sunscreen needs time to absorb into the skin in order to have a blocking effect of UVA and UVB rays.

  • I only need sunscreen if it’s sunny.  UVA and UVB rays still exist on cloudy days, and some people get the worst burns on these days, as they forget of these harmful rays still reaching their skin.

Make sure if you are going to be exposed to the sun this summer that you adequately protect yourself against the damaging effects of the UVA and UVB rays.