Sunscreen? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Protective clothing? Check. You are ready for a day outside.
About 86 percent of melanomas, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Learn how to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
Even devoted sunscreen users — ones who slather it on every day, summer or winter, rain or shine — make mistakes when applying it.
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Adults should use between six and nine teaspoons of sunscreen over their entire bodies. Unfortunately, most people don’t apply nearly that much. Using sunscreen can help prevent the sun’s UV radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Follow these tips:
▪ Be sure to get often-missed areas — behind the ears, back of the neck, top of the feet and the underside of arms.
▪ Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before you go out, especially if you will be in the water.
▪ Allow sunscreen to soak into your skin before slipping on clothing.
▪ If you are around water or in the water, you also get the reflection of the sun, which can cause sunburn on less obvious parts of the body. Be sure to re-apply sunscreen as needed.
Get savvy about shades. The sun’s UV rays are responsible for everything from crow’s feet to cataracts. You should wear sunglasses year-round whenever you are out in the sun. Here’s how to find the right pair:
▪ UV protection: If you don’t see a sticker saying they block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, don’t buy them.
▪ The fit: Sunglasses shouldn’t touch your eyelashes or slide down your nose. The right pair will line up with your brow.
▪ Side-to-side shade: The more area the sunglasses cover, the better. Wraparound shades are one of your best bets.
Clothing protects us by absorbing or blocking much of sun’s UV radiation. Not all clothing is equal when it comes to providing sun protection. Follow this advice:
▪ Choose a hat with a brim that extends 3 inches or more all the way around to shade the face, neck, ears and even the top of the shoulders.
▪ The more skin area covered, the better. Synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers (such as polyester and rayon) offer the greatest sun protection.
▪ Choose dark or bright colors. The more intense the hue, the better the UV defense.
Dr. Abigail B. Byrnes, a hematologist/oncologist with Baptist Health Medical Group Hematology and Oncology, practices at Baptist Health Corbin.