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With Skin Cancer Awareness Month having ended months ago, the Ironwood Dermatology team wanted to be sure that this important topic doesn’t get lost amid early fall plans—especially since there’s no start or end date for skin cancer. Arizona residents are used to sunny days, so it stands to reason that they also should be used to properly applying sunscreen, but “should be” and “are” can be miles apart.
There’s no shame in admitting you need a refresher on proper sunscreen use.
Use Enough: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an ounce of sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. That’s a shot glass full. Obviously some people are larger and some are smaller, so the amount should be adjusted accordingly. Just know that many people use less sunscreen than is required to be effective.
Start Early: This tip has two meanings. First, you’re never too young to start wearing an age-appropriate sunscreen. One risk factor for skin cancer later in life is frequent sunburns—especially those that blister—in childhood. Develop good skincare habits young, and encourage those around you to do the same. Second, sunscreen requires a little time on the skin before it’s effective at protecting against UV rays, so apply a layer roughly 20 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.
Double Up: One layer for your day is almost certainly not enough, especially if you’re outdoors and active. Apply a new layer of sunscreen every two hours, but be prepared to slather it on sooner if your first application is washed off by the ocean or pool, or if you sweat a lot.
Don’t Skip It: Ultraviolet rays can get to you even if you aren’t exposed under a clear blue sky. Vehicular travel (riding in a car, truck, or van) is a significant source of cumulative sun exposure, and even overcast days don’t protect you from damage. Make it a rule: If you’re going outside, wear sunscreen.
Get it Everywhere: If your skin can see the sun, the sun can damage your skin. It’s easy to remember your nose and arms—or your bare back, if you’re at the beach—but don’t forget the tops of your feet, the tops of your ears, and your scalp, especially if you’ve got thin (or no) hair.
If you’re experiencing the results of a lifetime of poor sunscreen habits, don’t kick yourself. The team at Ironwood Dermatology offers skin cancer screenings, as well as treatments for a range of sun-caused medical and cosmetic problems. Find out more by calling 520.618.1630 or visit www.ironwooddermatology.org.