You may not know, but May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Along with raising awareness about the dangers of skin cancer, we, at Renaissance Plastic Surgery, like to take this opportunity to remind our patients of the importance of sunscreen. A simple step, protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a key step in preventing melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—and other forms of skin cancer. In fact, research has shown that daily sunscreen use cut the incidence of melanoma in half.
Emphasizing the importance of proper skin protection, according to the Skin Care Foundation, 86 percent of melanoma incidences can be attributed to ultraviolet exposure. With statistics like these, choosing to protect your skin is a no brainer; however, understanding sunscreen can be a much more difficult task. Here, we explore the basics of proper sunscreen application.
Broad Spectrum Protection
The main purpose of sunscreen is to keep the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from reaching the skin—sunscreen achieves this by blocking and deflecting UVA and UVB rays from the skin’s surface. Both damaging, UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns, while UVA rays damage DNA by penetrating deep into the skins underlying layers. Know this: UVA rays exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays. Thus, it’s important to find a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
All Day, Every Day
With so many options available to you, it can be difficult to know which sunscreen will work best for you. Unless you spend the majority of your time outdoors, SPF 30 is sufficient for daily use. We encourage our patients to seek out skin care and beauty products that incorporate SPF protection. Women, seek out makeup with built in SPF protection—moisturizers, foundations, and even certain powders can provide protection. Men, in addition to a daily moisturizer, many aftershaves now include SPF protection.
What SPF is right for you?
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays, while SPF 30 and 50 keep out 97 and 98 percent respectively.
To fully benefit, you will need to apply one ounce (about that of a full shot glass) of sunscreen. Studies have shown that most people apply only half—or only a quarter—of the recommended amount.
Reapply! Reapply! Reapply!
No sunscreen, regardless of its SPF, is effective for more than two hours—making reapplication essential to protecting your skin. We love the easy reapplication that powder and spray sunscreens offer. For long days spent in the sun, reapply one ounce every two hours. This amounts to using around one-quarter to one-half of an eight-ounce bottle. Remember to reapply after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.
St. Louis Forecast: Sunscreen Is Important!
Here in the St. Louis area, we are lucky enough to enjoy many sunny days. Well protected, you can enjoy the warm weather that the sun brings. More importantly, with the proper sunscreen application, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. At Renaissance Plastic Surgery, we are happy to help you find sun protection that is best suited for your unique needs.