Holding Rays at Bay
Sunscreen is vital in decreasing skin cancer risks
Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. The most effective way to prevent sun exposure that could lead to skin cancer is to wear sunscreen and wear it correctly.
“The biggest battle with sunscreen is actually getting people to wear it before they realize the importance of it before damage has been done,” said Ariel Perry, a certified physician assistant at Dermatology Specialists of Florida in Panama City Beach.
The average adult should use enough sunscreen (if in liquid form) to fill a shot glass to cover their body.
For best results, apply 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply at least every two hours, more often if you are swimming or in water. Whether you are wearing an SPF 30 or 100, you should still be consistently applying sunscreen. SPF 30 is the minimum you should wear; it blocks 97% of the sun’s ultraviolet B rays.
In recent years, mineral sunscreen, also called physical sunscreen, has gained popularity. Physical sunscreen contains zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide, which create a physical barrier between the skin and sun and reflect harmful rays.
Physical sunscreens tend to be thicker with a white tint, but many companies have improved the formula resulting in less sheen. Chemical sunscreens, meanwhile, are easier to rub in and, as Perry notes, much better than wearing nothing.
“The best sunscreen is the sunscreen you’re actually going to wear,” Perry said. Perry advises parents to stress the importance of sunscreen to their children early on, so as to make applying sunscreen a habit that they will carry into adulthood. She also encourages people to get their skin examined by a dermatologist regularly and to perform skin checks on their own.
Many skin cancer signs are visible and can be caught early, especially in the case of moles. Follow the ABCDs — asymmetrical, border irregularity, color uniformity and diameter. Should any of these aspects appear abnormal, it’s wise to schedule a dermatology appointment.
“Think of seeing your dermatologist like seeing your eye doctor, gynecologist or primary physician; it’s an appointment you should have at least once a year,” Perry said. “Exams are vital for early detection of skin cancer and any other skin concerns.”
Dermatology Specialists of Florida & Aqua Medical Spa