Get The Skinny On Sunscreen
Always use sunscreen with a “sun protective factor” (SPF) 15 or higher when exposed to the sun and wind. This will reduce your skin cancer risk. Protect yourself from the ultraviolet rays of the sun especially between 10 am and 4 pm.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering sunlight. Chemicals in the product interact with the skin to protect it. Also watch the expiration date on sunscreen before using.
Wear sunglasses. You should select sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Stay in the shade and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs.
The main cause of skin cancer is the sun and tanning booths. That’s why using sunscreen is important. Did you know that 98% of skin cancer is cured if detected early and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body. There are 3 types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. The third is melanoma which is somewhat rare. According to the American Cancer Society just 1% of the population will be diagnosed with melanoma. But melanoma, if untreated, can spread to other organs and be deadly.
Dry, scaly, rough-textured spots on the skin are called actinic keratosis. These are common and considered pre-cancerous. But left untreated, may turn into squamous cell carcinoma.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
As we age, our skin needs extra care. Skin gets thin and becomes dry over the years. It injures easier and heals slowly making it more susceptible to infection and disease. Avoid hot baths and frequent showers. Use mild soaps, and gently apply thick moisturizers or creams containing Vitamin E. Sunscreen can help keep skin moist.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption which keeps bones strong and lowers risk of osteoporosis and fractures due to falls. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s UVB rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.
You can try 30 minutes summer midday sun daily. Use a good sunscreen. In older adults this process is less effective. But you can get additional Vitamin D from these foods:
- Eggs and dairy products
- Salmon/tuna/beef liver/cod liver oil
- Orange juice and some breakfast cereals
Have a Happy Independence Day!