Labor day weekend -the unofficial end of summer. Gone are the lazy days by the pool or on the beach; kids return to school, and for many it seems like back to “normal” life. So if you are not sitting out in shorts or a bathing suit all day, you don’t need to apply sunscreen, right? WRONG!! For both adults and children the use of sunscreen should not stop as summer ends.
So since you are not in the sun all day, you don’t need to worry, right? WRONG! Depending on the UV index, it can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes to get a sunburn. That is not very long. Walking the dog, sitting at a ball game, walking around the city, kids on the playground or at soccer practice - all of these activities include sun exposure that fits into that 10 to 45 minute time frame. And watch out for those cloudy days because 80% of the sun’s rays pass through clouds! Some surfaces like blacktop or (forgive us for mentioning it) snow reflect the sun rays and this increases your exposure too.
When your skin “tans” we think we look healthy but really it is a sign of damage to your skin. The darkening of your skin is its response to the harmful rays of the sun. When there is more than your skin can absorb, you end up with sunburn. Wearing sunscreen is an easy way to protect you from this damage which we know can cause both skin cancer as well as an increase in wrinkles and other signs of aging skin.
What does sunscreen do? Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet light so that it doesn't reach the skin. Look for sunscreens with the active ingredients, benzophenones, cinnamates or salicylates. If your skin is sensitive, consider a sunblock. Sunblocks literally block the UV rays instead of absorbing them. Key active ingredients are titanium oxide and zinc oxide.
What is SPF? Sunscreens are given a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number that indicates how long a person can remain in the sun without burning. There is no such thing as "all-day protection" or "waterproof" sunscreen. No matter what the SPF number, sunscreens need to be re-applied every 2 to 3 hours.
Here are some basic tips about sun protection:
Of course you cannot live your life indoors, and you don’t have to. Take precautions for yourself and your family to protect your skin all year long by using sunscreen and following the tips we outlined. Enjoy the beautiful days of all the seasons. Protect your skin and be safe at the same time. And don’t forget to see your dermatologist once a year for a skin cancer screening. Call us today or click here to schedule an appointment online.