Current estimates suggest that 1 in 5 people in the United States will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
Wearing sunscreen every day is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to dramatically reduce your risk for skin cancer.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays contain powerful energy that can damage DNA, leading to cell mutations and cancerous growths. You are trying to avoid potential risk for cancer when applying sunscreen.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, despite the known prevention potential of sunscreen. Many people don’t use it frequently enough, or they may be applying it incorrectly.
Not Just For Summer
It’s easier to remember the importance of sunscreen on hot summer days outside, but UV rays are still present on cloudy days and through the cold winter months.
You may be more likely to get burned on casual winter walks or skiing and snowboarding because you aren’t thinking about the sun. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing sunscreen.
Snow on the ground reflects light back to your face, increasing sun exposure. Your body might be more covered up than on those hot days at the beach, but you still need to protect yourself. Even if you only expect to be outside for a short time, you should always apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
In a study of nearly 5000 skiers and snowboarders at various high-altitude winter recreation resorts, adults were advised to apply an SPF 15+ sunscreen up to 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply after 2 hours. This advice is very important for reducing exposure to sunlight’s UV radiation and preventing skin cancer.
Yet only half of the people used SPF 15+ sunscreen, and only 72.3% of those who did, applied it at least 30 minutes before going outside, which is essential for full absorption and protection. Only 20.4% of sunscreen wearers reapplied 2 hours later. Of all the people surveyed, only 4.4% were fully compliant.
Applying sunscreen too infrequently, not using enough of it, and putting on expired sunscreen can reduce its effectiveness.
Another common mistake is that people will sometimes miss parts of their skin, such as eyelids, ears, or neck. These spots are just as likely to get sun damaged as any other, so it’s important to make sure that every bit of skin is fully covered.
Any time your skin is exposed to UV radiation, your skin cells – and your health and longevity – are at risk. Wearing sunscreen all year round is one easy way to stay safer and healthier.