As the Spring brings warmer weather, we are all excited to get back out in the sun. It has been a long dark winter and as we transfer into warmer sunnier days it is important to protect yourself from the sun's UV rays. UV radiation has been linked to the development of skin cancer and premature aging. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and using sunscreen is one of many ways to stay safe and protect your skin from potentially harmful sun exposure.
- Cover up: Using hats and clothing that cover your skin is the best option for preventing UV damage while out in the sun.
- Avoid sun exposure during the hottest part of the day: Choose times away from 10-2 pm to play in the sun. The suns rays are most powerful when the sun is highest in the sky.
- Find or make shade: On sunny days have a shady home base to go back to for water, snack breaks, and rest.
- See a dermatologist for regular skin checks: A dermatologist may recommend a skin mapping to help monitor your skin and look for changes year to year. If you have any concerns about changes in your skin get in to see your naturopath or PCP to have them take a look.
- Choose SPF 30: Higher SPF gives the illusion that you will be better protected, which is not always the case. Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours. Sunscreen looses its effectiveness over time.
- Avoid spray sunscreens: Particles in these sprays are not safe to inhale and can be harmful to your health.
- Avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone: Oxybenzone can act like an estrogen and disrupt natural hormone levels. Oxybenzone is absorbed through the skin and has been found in urine and breast milk following use.
- Avoid sunscreen containing retinyl palmitate: This sunscreen ingredient has been found to spread the growth of some skin cancers in animal studies.
- Avoid tanning oils: Tanning oils are not sunscreen and don’t block UV light. They often contain harmful chemicals and are best to avoid.
- Pick a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection: Some sunscreens only block UVB. UVB are the stronger rays responsible for sunburns and some of the DNA changes that can lead to skin cancer. UVA are are less powerful rays that penetrate deeper and also cause DNA damage and age related skin changes. The best UVA blocker on the U.S. Market is zinc oxide, a natural sunscreen product.
For more information on choosing top rated sunscreens go to: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/