|Posted by Community Health Chair on June 25, 2015 at 12:30 AM|
July is UV Safety Month
It's that time of the year when we venture outdoors to celebrate events such as 4th of July, with cookouts, pool parties, coastal getaways etc. In our enthusiastic rush to break out our swimsuits and the sangria, it is easy to forget about sun safety. Protecting our skin is important on a year-round basis, but particularly during the summer months when the sun's rays are at their strongest, and we find ourselves spending more time outdoors due to longer daylight hours. Here are some common misconceptions about sunscreen and the correct facts to keep in mind:
-Myth: Sunscreen is only for fair-skinned individuals, and those with darker skin tones such as Africans and African Americans do not require it, as they possess a "built-in" sunscreen in the form of their higher melanin content.
Fact:Anyone is susceptible to skin cancer, regardless of their skin color. (Of note, Bob Marley the famous rastafarian and reggae maestro, died from a malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer). Therefore, everyone over the age of 6 months should use sunscreen to protect themselves from the carcinogenic rays of the sun.
-Myth: When applying sunscreen, a one-time "squirt" application will do.
Fact: You require at least an ounce (enough to fill a shot glass)of sunscreen in order to sufficiently cover the sun-exposed areas of your skin. Further, the sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before you step out, as this allows time for the ingredients to sufficiently activate their protective properties on your skin. Additionally,you will need to re-apply the sunscreen because it decreases in efficacy after about two hours.
-Myth: Any SPF will do.
Fact: In order to ensure maximal sun protection, dermatologists advise choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, as they are more likely to contain ingredients that will protect you from harmful UVA and UVB rays such as zinc oxide
-Myth: You can use the same sunscreen on your face that you use for the rest of your body.
Fact: Your face and neck regions are considered more delicate, hence are more susceptible to adverse reactions such as breakouts and rashes, due to the harsher ingredients used in general body sunscreen, such as fragrance, oil, parabens etc. Hence, when shopping for sunscreen, take a moment to read the ingredients to determine if would be right for your skin type (e.g. fragrance-free, non-comedogenic etc). For example, comedogenic oils such as lanolin tend to clog pores and cause acne break-outs, while fragrances tend to irritate the skin and cause rashes (you wouldn't spray perfume/cologne on your face, would you?).
While you're taking care of your skin's exterior by applying sunscreen, don't forget to take care of your interior as well by staying adequately hydrated! This includes drinking water and electrolyte replacement drinks such as Gatorade. Try to limit caffeine and alcohol-laden drinks, as these will cause you to become dehydrated at a faster rate.
If in doubt regarding sunscreen use or general sun safety, you can utilize various resources, such as the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org) or the Skin Cancer Foundation (www.skincancer.org), or you may also ask your healthcare practitioner (e.g. dermatologist) for more information such as specific recommendations.
(Fun tip: your dermatologist's office is a great place to get free samples of the latest skin care products, including sunscreen!)
If you're looking for me, I'll be the one in the shade, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, "Jackie-O" sunglasses and of course, my SPF+30 sunscreen!
Stay cool (literally and figuratively)this summer!
The How to Select a Sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/prevent-skin-cancer/how-to-select-a-sunscreen
The Skin Cancer Foundation's Guide to Sunscreen (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/the-skin-cancer-foundations-guide-to-sunscreens