Today’s sun protection is tomorrow’s freedom from skin cancer
KINGMAN – There is a dark side to the spectacular Arizona sun: wrinkles, skin spots, eye damage, and skin cancer. Even though this year the weather is cooler than usual around this time, late May and June are around the corner, and with them – more and more sun exposure.
“Sun exposure has a cumulative effect,” Dr. Chad Taylor from Mohave Skin and Cancer Clinic, 1815 Stockton Hill Road, said. “What we do now, or don’t do now, can affect us later in life.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there were more than 80,000 people diagnosed with melanoma of the skin, the most serious form of skin cancer, in 2015 alone. About 4.3 million more people are being treated for less serious forms of cancer.
The basic rule is simple: wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. If it is not part of your daily routine, it is not sun protection. Apply it 20 minutes before your leave the house.
No sunscreen works longer than two hours, and no sunscreen is truly water resistant.
Experts typically suggest “broad spectrum,” which provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. However, there are more and more voices suggesting the difference between SPF 30 and 50 is irrelevant. At the same time, don’t confuse a beauty product (a lotion, a moisturizer) that has Sun Protection Factor (SPF) with actual sunscreen.
Ashley Schmitz, an aesthetician and assistant manager at Oasis Daily Spa, 3939 Stockton Hill Road, recommends using sunscreen separately.
“I’ve learned from an aesthetician I admire that no one monitors those products the way they monitor sunscreens,” she said.
Schmitz admits that men are more hesitant to wear sunscreen, still considering it a “female thing.” But, interestingly, according to Schmitz men seem to age better.
“I think it’s because they shave their faces,” she said. “This way they always exfoliate. But that’s another reason why they should wear sunscreen, too.”
According to a recent study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, sunscreens have not been subjected to standard drug safety testing, and clinicians and consumers lack data on systemic drug levels despite decades of widespread use.
In 2008, the CDCP demonstrated the presence of the common sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone in 97% of urine samples collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Still, most doctors agree that giving up sunscreen is not an option
Other means of sun protection?
Don’t spend time outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Plan your activities around those times. Consider it siesta time. Those hours are perfect for office work, taking a nap, or reading a book. Enjoy the nature in the morning and before sunset, with sunscreen on every part of exposed skin.
Wear long sleeves. Invest in a decent pair of sunglasses. They don’t have to be expensive, but make sure they block at least 99% of UVB and 95% of UVA rays. Big glasses and big hats, and not bikinis – that is the real Arizona fashion.
Also, “take frequent breaks from the sun in a shaded area,” Dr. Taylor suggests. “A good rule of thumb is every 30 minutes spent in the sun should be followed by a 15-20 minute break in the shade.”