As we prepare to send our children, our families, and ourselves, out into the summer sun, our thoughts maybe turned toward protection from unseen dangers. The major danger that we must consider, especially during the summertime, is UV exposure. In the past two decades alone, the detrimental effects of UV exposure have been confirmed in numerous studies. To protect ourselves from sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer, we are advised to apply sunscreen every day. But we don’t what we don’t know. As it pertains to sunscreen, it means that we may not really know the factors that protect us.
A Closer Look at Sunscreen
Just 20 years ago, being outdoors and being sunburned pretty much went hand-in-hand. Today there is much greater awareness about the damage of UV exposure. The way most people choose their sunscreen is by looking at the SPF. SPF stands for sun protection factor. It does not however, stand for overall strength.
SPF indicates the amount of time you can stay in the sun without burning. For instance, A sunscreen with SPF 30 would presumably allow you to stay in the sun approximately 300 minutes without getting a sunburn if normally you would burn in 10 minutes. An important note about SPF is that this measurement only applies to the UVB rays that cause sunburn. This is not the only factor that needs consideration.
The Danger of UVA Radiation
Clearly, there is benefit to avoiding sunburn. However UVA light can do a lot more damage, and the effects of this exposure may not be seen for many years. UVA radiation is a factor in the development of the signs of aging as well as the different types of skin cancer. So, when choosing sunscreen, Look beyond SPF and make sure to adequately protect your skin with a broad spectrum product.
Usage Matters, too!
The sunscreen you choose is just one of several puzzle pieces that protect your skin. Application is also important. Studies show that most people do not apply the adequate amount of sunscreen when spending the day outdoors. Approximately 2 tablespoons of sunscreen is necessary to cover exposed skin. The face alone needs a drop about the size of a nickel. Also, it is necessary to reapply sunscreen as needed based on your activity, the SPF measurement, and on the time you’ll be out in the sun. Experts recommend re-application about every two hours. Additional measures such as avoiding direct sunlight or wearing protective clothing are also advisable.
If you have questions about assessing and addressing the signs of damage, we can help. Contact us for your skin evaluation and treatment.