Longer spring days mean more time outside—and a greater skin cancer risk. Will you be exercising outdoors? If so, learn more about protecting your skin.
The sun emits two kinds of ultraviolet radiation that are considered responsible for skin cancers – Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). Although UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays, they are present year-round and can penetrate glass and clouds. UVB rays are responsible for burning, tanning and also contribute to the development of skin cancer. UVB intensity varies by season, location and time of day and UVB rays cannot penetrate glass. You need to protect your skin from both kinds of radiation with appropriate sunscreen.
All sunscreen is labeled with a Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF) number. Athletes should wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, SPF indicates only how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays only—so you also need to know that your sunscreen has UVA protection too. The label should say it has UVA, broad spectrum, or multi-spectrum protection. What’s more, look for a water-resistant sunscreen—there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen, but a water-resistant one will last longer than typical sunscreens.
A few other important tips:
- Apply sun protection at least every two hours, even on cloudy days.
- Throw out last year’s sunscreen and stock up on new. Technically, sunscreen should be stable for at least three years, but dermatologists recommend discarding sunscreen products that you’ve had more than one year.
- Wear broad-brimmed hats and cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, darker, tightly woven garments provide the most SPF protection.
- Wear sunglasses! UVA and UVB rays can damage your eyes, potentially causing cataracts and vision loss as you age.