Sunscreen is necessary to reduce your risk for skin cancer
This summer, before you step out into the sun, you need to remember to apply sunscreen because the sun emits skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation.
The UV radiation from the sun is partially absorbed by ozone high up in the stratosphere, but some radiation makes it down to the surface.
Chattanooga's UV Index, which is a measure of the ground-level solar UV radiation, has already reached the highest category level of “Extreme” this week with a value of 11. Typically, this time of year we are at a UV Index of 7 in the "High" category, so protecting your skin now is imperative.
If you've been sunburned and had blisters or simply been to a tanning bed, you are more likely to get skin cancer.
Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer type.
You should have your skin examined once a year at the dermatologist, and check it yourself.
"We talk about the ABCDE's of melanoma. We want you to look for spots that are Asymmetrical, have an irregular Border, more than one Color, are larger in Diameter than the head of a pencil eraser, and that Evolve. They grow and change over time," nurse practitioner Lana Goodman, FNP-BC of the Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Dermatology Center explained.
Reducing your exposure to the sun's UV rays helps prevent your risk for skin cancer.
"Putting on sunscreen, seeking shade during those peak hours from 10 to 2 [10am to 2pm], wearing sun-protective clothing, a hat, long sleeve shirt, all those things can help protect your skin. Any day that you are outside even if it is cloudy, you still need to have on sunscreen," said Goodman.
Sunscreen needs to be broad spectrum and sweat and water resistant.
The sun protection factor, or SPF, should be 30 or higher. SPF-30 blocks 97% of the sun's rays.
"You should apply approximately 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going out into the sun," nurse practitioner Emily Brewer, FNP-BC of Susong Dermatology recommended.
No sunscreen is ever waterproof.
"You must reapply either every 2 hours or every time you've gotten sweaty or you've been in the water gotten out and toweled off," stated Goodman.
There are two types of sunscreen - chemical and physical also known as mineral sunscreen.
"A physical sunscreen acts as a shield, so it is going to deflect those sun's rays. If it is a chemical sunscreen, think of it more as a sponge. It's going to be absorbing those,” Goodman described.
Physical sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They are better for sensitive skin, and formulas have improved over the last 10 years, making them easier to apply.
"The biggest concern is just making sure that people are using sunscreens. Whether it is the chemical base sunscreen or the mineral base sunscreen, just applying sunscreen needs to continue to happen," said Brewer emphatically.
One in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime, so before you head outside this summer, remember to apply sunscreen. There is no such thing as an all-day sunscreen, so you do need to reapply.