Almost everyone has had the experience of being slathered in sunscreen, usually by a concerned mother; while that may have been unpleasant, it was in their best interest.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
According to Jenny Yuen, health educator at Lafene Health Center, sunscreen is always a good option, especially when exposing large amounts of skin to the sun. It should be part of a daily regimen, like brushing one’s teeth every day. Anything with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher is a good option for general use, but SPF 50 should be used when doing any strenuous activity outdoors. It is recommended to wait at least 20 minutes after application before going outside.
Yuen said one myth in applying sunscreen stems from the idea that we only need to do so once right before going out in the sun.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, however, protection starts long before that. Clothing is one of the best methods of protection because it absorbs and blocks the harmful UV rays. The more skin covered the better.
Aside from blocking the glare, sunglasses also offer protection. This is only true, though, if the lenses are designed to block UV rays. According to the American Optometric Association, the risk of eye damages like ocular sunburn or even cataracts increases with exposure to UV rays. This is caused because the iris opens to accommodate the tint, thereby letting more UV in.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, shade may also lessen the amount of UV rays one is exposed to, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. However, it is still recommended to use another form of protection. Shade does not guarantee protection from all types of UV.
Indoor tanning is also a topic of interest regarding skin care. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 59 percent and the risk increases with each use. They also note that 59 percent of college students have reported using a tanning bed in their lifetime.
Whatever method used, it is best to cease all exposure when pinkness is first noticed. Dana Edwards, mother of two, said she knows the warning signs: “Give it a few hours,” Edwards said. “A light pink will set into a lobster red.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, some useful methods of aftercare are moisturizing the skin with cooling creams such as aloe vera, hydrating yourself and immediately taking pain medications (such as Ibuprofen) to not only prevent pain, but also reduce inflammation.