When April rolls around in Phoenix, the locals are ready for some outdoor play! The weather is perfect for swimming, hiking, and baseball. With all the sun exposure, it’s also a perfect time to talk about the importance of sunscreen. Sunscreen reduces your risk for skin cancer, slows premature aging and prevents sunburns. You can optimize your protection by choosing the right sunscreen, applying it liberally and wearing it regularly.
Did you know on average Phoenix has more than 300 days of sunshine each year? Because of that fact, residents are exposed to more ultraviolet (UV) rays than most other Americans. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and ultraviolet (UV) rays are the primary cause. The best way to protect your skin is to use sunblock.
Here are some tips to avoid sunburns this season – and more importantly – prevent skin cancer:
- The best time to steer clear of the sun is between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. If you are outside during these peak times, search for shaded areas.
- Always use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with aSun Protection Factor (SPF)of 30 or higher.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors to assure it has time to fully bind to the skin.
- Use a generous amount of product – this is not the time to skimp. An average-sized adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass) to evenly cover the body from head to toe.
- Make sure to protect often missed and delicate spots like ears, scalp, lips, backs of hands, tops of feet and the back of your neck.
- Reapplying sunscreen is also crucial, SPF is broken down by sunlight, making the SPF less effective.
- Increase your defense by wearing UV protective sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat and dark colored clothing to provide a physical barrier from the sun.
- Be extra diligent about sunblock when near water, snow or sand because these elements can reflect damaging sun rays, increasing the chance of sunburns and long-term skin damage.
Remember, sunscreen does not block all UV rays and needs to be reapplied at least every two hours to maintain maximum protection. This is especially important when doing activities where you may sweat off your protection. Even if your sunscreen says it’s water-resistant or water-proof, that doesn’t mean it is towel proof! Reapply sunblock after toweling off from a dip in the pool, lake or ocean to avoid the risk of getting burned.
Lastly, a sunburn is the immediate reaction to too much sun exposure, but damage from the sun occurs over a lifetime. For more information about skin safety, early detection and the keys to fighting skin cancer, contact us for an appointment.
Written by: Heidi E.K. Mullen, Affiliated Dermatology
Heidi E.K. Mullen joined Affiliated Dermatology as a resident physician in July 2018 after completing a General Surgery Internship at Maricopa Integrated Health System, a Level 1 Trauma Center, in Phoenix, Ariz. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California at San Diego in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. After a career in the biotechnology industry, she decided to pursue a medical degree at Midwestern University/Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she graduated in May 2017. She will complete her dermatology training at Affiliated Dermatology in 2021.