Why sun protection is important
Every summer you may hear warnings about skin cancer and why sun protection is important. But a lot has changed in the past few years with updated guidelines sunscreen labels and use changes so you need to know how to keep you and your family safe when you're enjoying the outdoors.
Here are 10 facts to ensure you have fun in the sun this summer.
1. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States
According to statistics compiled by the Skin Cancer Foundation more cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually than breast prostate lung and colon cancer cases combined and skin cancer rates are increasing. In 2014 the United States Surgeon General declared skin cancer a major public health problem.
2. Melanoma: The malignant skin cancer that is mostly preventable
According to the Surgeon General around 90 percent of melanoma cases are caused by accumulated exposure to the sun's burning UVA rays. UV rays are also a major risk factor for the most common curable forms of skin cancer which are basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Because there are preventative measures you can easily follow knowing why sun protection is important is key.
3. Tan skin is not healthy skin
Tan skin is actually damaged skin according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Melanoma Research Foundation has dispelled the myth of the "base tan." In actuality a base tan will not protect you from sunburns as it equates to a measly SPF 3.
4. Sunburns increase your risk of melanoma
According to the Melanoma Education Foundation one blistering sunburn before age 20 doubles your risk of melanoma in your lifetime. Three or more sunburns that blister before age 20 increases the likelihood of melanoma by five times. The Skin Cancer Foundation cites statistics that your average risk of melanoma doubles if you've had more than just five sunburns in your life.
5. Even your eyes can get burned
Chronic eye exposure to the sun's UV rays can cause permanent damage including blindness according to the CDC. Eyes that are sunburned may look red and feel dry painful and gritty. If you work or play outdoors often the CDC recommends you wear sunglasses with near 100 percent UV protection and side panels.
6. New sunscreen label requirements you must know
Did you know that the FDA changed sunscreen formula and label requirements to include "broad-spectrum" sun protection? That means the formula includes protection against UVA and UVB rays. Both types contribute to sunburns and skin cancer formation. The next time you're at the drug store don't purchase any sunscreen without the "broad-spectrum" designation on its label.
7. Sunscreen with an SPF below 15 doesn't provide enough protection
Whenever spending time in the sun the American Academy of Dermatology advises you to always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. SPF sunburn protection is not proportional to the SPF number when compared to each other. For example SPF 30 does not provide double the protection of SPF 15. Above SPF 50 and there is very little additional protection studies have found so don't worry about looking for a product higher than that number.
8. Use the right amount of sunscreen for the best protection
The American Academy of Dermatology advises you use one full ounce of sunscreen (that's the amount of a full shot glass) to cover your whole body including your neck ears face the tops of your feet and your scalp if you are bald or have thinning hair.
9. Apply (and re-apply) sunscreen properly
Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before entering the sun and every time you come out of the water or sweat according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Its guidelines also state to generously re-apply sunscreen at least every two hours regardless of its SPF number.
10. Babies younger than 6 months old should not be exposed to sunscreen or the sun's rays
The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that babies younger than 6 months old should be completely protected from the sun. However sunscreen isn't a viable solution because a baby's skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. If you must be outdoors with a baby cover him or her completely in protective clothing and put on a solid hat that covers the face and neck.