Blistering sun is here. People are out and about. The winter was so long that it is a relief to get out and walk, jog, golf, bike, get some tan and vitamin D and do other activities. Not to mention people enjoy some beer and barbequed meat.
While you are enjoying all that do not forget to dress properly and use sunscreen. At the same time do not forget to use DEET, good quality sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat. It is important to prevent skin cancer. Each year we go through this drill to emphasise the importance of preventing disfiguring skin cancers including lethal melanoma.
There are three types of skin cancers. Basal cell cancer (BCC) and squamous cell cancer (SCC) are not lethal but can leave you with scars and deformities. Then there is melanoma. If not detected and treated early melanoma can be lethal.
When exposed to sunrays, some people burn easily and others slowly. Those who burn easily have a higher risk of skin cancer than others. But everybody is at some risk of getting skin cancer including people with dark skin.
Here are eight Health Canada sunscreen safety tips:
- Choose a high SPF. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. The sunscreen should also say “broad-spectrum” on the label, to screen out most of the UVA and UVB rays.
- Look for “water resistant” sunscreen.
- Read application instructions. For best results, be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.
- Use lots of sunscreen. Use the recommended.
- Apply it often. Apply sunscreen before heading outside and use a generous amount. Reapply 20 minutes after going outside and at least every two hours after that. Cover exposed areas generously, including ears, nose, the tops of feet and backs of knees. Reapply sunscreen often to get the best possible protection especially if you are swimming or sweating heavily.
- Protect yourself. Sunscreen and insect repellents can be used safely together. Apply the sunscreen first, then the insect repellent.
- Sunscreens and babies. Do not put sunscreen on babies less than six months of age. Keep them out of the sun and heat as their skin and bodies are much more sensitive than an adult’s.
- Test for an allergic reaction. Before using any product on you or your child check for an allergic reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. Apply it to a small patch of skin on the inner forearm for several days in a row. If the skin turns red or otherwise reacts, change products.
All sunscreens have a sun protection factor (SPF) on their labels. Imagine that your skin normally begins to burn after 10 minutes in full sun without any protection. A 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. Anything higher than SPF 30 has no major advantage.
Sunscreen remains effective for three years, but it does expire, so check the date on the container. Remember, tanned skin is damaged skin and it can turn into cancer. Have a safe and wonderful summer.
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