Sun safety is always in season, not just during the Summer. Getting too little sun, especially in winter months, can leave some people prone to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder.
Sunlight also helps our skin make vitamin D, which is needed for normal bone function and health.
Yet, it’s important to protect your skin from sun damage throughout the year, no matter the weather.
Sun exposure can cause:
- skin aging (skin spots, wrinkles, or “leathery skin”)
- eye damage
- skin cancer (most common of all cancers).
Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. People of all skin colors are at risk. The best way to protect skin health and prevent skin cancer is to limit sun exposure.
Avoid prolonged time in the sun, and choose to be in the shade rather than in direct sunlight. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses, and use sunscreen between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunscreen is especially important at that time.
About 4.3 million people are treated for basal cell cancer and squamous cell skin cancer in the U.S. every year, according to a report from the Office of the Surgeon General.
Melanoma is a less common but more serious type of skin cancer that’s diagnosed in more than 68,000 Americans each year. Another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that involves only the top layer of skin.
Get sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection. If you have very light skin, use SPF 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply often, at least every 2 hours.
What does water-resistant sunscreen do?
The term water resistant means that the SPF is maintained for up to 40 minutes in water. Very water resistant means the SPF is maintained for 80 minutes in water.
Choose sunglasses that protect the sides of your eyes and that are labeled to guard against both Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB).
UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays can burn your skin.
Myths vs. Facts: Sunscreen & Sun Protection for Some Only?
Studies show that minority populations, particularly Hispanics and Blacks, do not regularly wear sunscreen or take other steps to protect themselves from the sun.
Sun damage, including sunburn, happens no matter what the skin color is. Darker skin may not show these visible signs of sun damage as readily.
It’s true that skin cancer is more common in those with lighter skin. In fact, just 1-2% of all skin cancers occur in Blacks, 2-4% occur in Asians, and 4-5% in Hispanics. So by the time they see a doctor for a suspicious spot, the cancer is more advanced and difficult to treat.
Bob Marley (Robert Nesta Marley), the Jamaican Reggae music legend, singer and songwriter, had a type of melanoma that appeared first under the nail of his big toe.