Exposure to the sun can be very dangerous. If we are not careful to protect our skin, we can run into serious skin problems and even develop cancer. The most visible danger that we normally see is the sunburn which occurs on our skin when we stay exposed to the sun too long and don’t apply or reapply sunscreen. Long-term exposure to the rays of the sun can also cause brown spots or liver spots, which can also cause cancer. This most common type of cancer is called basal Cell Carcinoma and is 100% curable if detected early. If you have too much exposure to the sun, the UVA and UVB rays can cause malignant melanoma, which is known to be the most serious form of skin cancer. People who have been sunburned from exposure to the sun at an early age are more likely to develop malignant melanoma. If you see an irregularly shaped spot on your skin, or abnormal colored birthmark, it is important to have it checked out by a dermatologist.
As I was watching the Early Show on CBS New Television Network, Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton was discussing with Julie Chen about the importance of sunscreen and more important what SPF should we use. SPF stands for Sun Protector Factor. They were discussing how the FDA suggests capping SPF at 50, but now there are products coming out with a 100 SPF and Neutrogena is one of them. This now adds to the confusion of SPF sunscreen. How much SPF is really enough?
Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton pointed out that American Academy of Dermatology suggests that you use a sunscreen protection with a SPF higher than 15. The myth about SPF is that people think if they use 100 SPF that they are 100% protected by the sun. This isn’t the case, what SPF tells us is how long you can be outside exposed to the sun without burning. An example would be 100 SPF would be 100 times longer than if you didn’t have any sunscreen protection on.
There are some very important tips on applying sunscreen before you expose your skin to the sun this summer. Apply your sunscreen every 2 hours and it is very important to reapply after sweating and coming out of the water, even your sunscreen claims to be waterproof. You should use 1 ounce of sunscreen for your entire body, this is about the size of a shot glass. It is very important that you wait 20 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun after you have applied it. The reason for this is because it takes only 20 minutes to burn in the sun and it takes 20 minutes for the sunscreen to soak in.
FDA is now proposing a new safety measure and new standards for sunscreens; this is a first in 30 years. They are proposing a 4 star system, which sunscreens must show on the label of the sunscreen protection bottle. One star will mean the sunscreen has low protection, two stars would indicate that the sunscreen has medium protection, three stars would indicate high protection and 4 stars would indicate highest protection. Many of the sunscreens claim that they have UVA protection and really don’t. If your sunscreen claims to have UVA protection, check the bottle and make sure there are 3 key ingredients of zinc, titanium and avobenzone in your sunscreen. FDA is also proposing that they must back up their claim of their sunscreen being waterproof.
When you are in the sun it is important to always use hats, sunglasses and shirts. The only way to stay completely safe from the sun is to stay out of the sun altogether.