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What's Up Magazine

Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

May 10, 2017 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds

A good sun block contains ingredients that protect against both UVB and UVA rays.

Spring has finally arrived and the warmth of the sun feels so good. However, those rays of sunshine contain ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer, age spots, and wrinkles. As the ozone layer in our atmosphere has thinned, aging and cancer-causing ultraviolet rays have strengthened. In addition to wearing hats and proper attire, make sure to protect yourself by applying sun block.

As May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it is still important to know that sun block is the best way to protect yourself if you are exposed to the sun and applying generous amounts is highly recommended. Sun block is not just for adults, but for adolescents, toddlers, and babies. In fact the majority of sun exposure occurs in individuals before age 21. Many people who have been diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, have had severe sunburns before age five. So use your sun block frequently as bathing and sweating will wash away the lotion leaving you exposed to the sun.

When it comes to sunscreens and SPF (sun protection factor) the higher the number, the better the protection. SPF is the relative measure of how quickly you will burn and how well you are protected. For example, a sun block of SPF 4 blocks 75 percent of the sun’s rays while an SPF 70 blocks more than 98 percent.

A good sun block contains ingredients that protect against both UVB and UVA rays. Sunscreens absorb, reflect or scatter ultraviolet (UV) light by forming a film over the skin before the rays can penetrate it. Other sunscreens absorb UV rays before they can cause damage. And it does not matter if you are light or dark-skinned, sun block should be used no matter your skin type.

The sun also can dry out your skin through the rapid evaporation of water. Some simple solutions to keeping your skin hydrated are drinking water and sports drinks as fluids replenish lost nutrients. Also using light moisturizers and skin serums that contain Vitamin C help nourish your skin. And, just as important, avoid strong skin peels and exfoliations if you will be spending time in the sun as they make skin more sensitive and vulnerable to the sun. Finally, if you want that tan look, use a bronzer, which is much safer for your skin.

Today’s skin care treatments and products have made it possible for all of us to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure that skin care is a top priority this summer.

Text courtesy of University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center.