Skin Cancer SPF Application Tips
As weather heats up, so do conversations about sunscreen wear, but at this point, we should all know that sunscreen is a must have all year round. If the sun is out, its rays can cause damage — even if it's overcast outside. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80 percent of the sun’s radiation reaches earth on cloudy days, and exposure to that radiation has consequences.
If you were ever a tanaholic — whether you slathered yourself in baby oil and roasted yourself like a rotisserie chicken between the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or preferred to bake in a tanning bed — you might be seeing those consequences first hand in the form of photoaging. Photoaging is a fancy term for sun damage. Everything from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots and skin laxity can be caused by excessive sun exposure.
And while the cosmetic concerns caused by the sun may be what inspires some to wear SPF, it should really be the health benefits. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 — a very low dose of sun protection — can actually cut your risk of developing melanoma in half.
Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer; unlike other forms of skin cancer, melanoma can spread throughout the body far from where it originally developed, including through the central nervous system, making it far harder to manage if it’s not caught early. A common saying amongst physicians is that prevention is better than intervention. Why not wear sunscreen if you know it can protect both the health and beauty of your skin?
Knowing the importance of sunscreen, we encourage you to keep these SPF tips in mind daily, regardless of the weather outside:
- Wear sunscreen every day, ideally with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
- If using a chemical sunscreen, apply at least 20 minutes before going outside
- Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming
- Avoid the sun during its strongest hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and seek shade whenever possible
- Apply more than you think you need — at least two tablespoons on the body and a teaspoon on the face and neck
In addition to wearing sunscreen, one of the simplest ways you can protect yourself against skin cancer is through regular visits to a dermatologist. If you see a spot that is changing, bleeding, or not healing, get your family doctor to send you to a dermatologist for a proper assessment.