The older I get, the more I think about the impact of sun exposure on my skin. When I was growing up sunscreen wasn’t really a "thing.” The only protection we had was zinc oxide and it was applied to very little surface area – mainly just the nose and cheeks. My father has had to endure multiple rounds of Mohs procedures. I picked him up after one of his appointments and it was very sobering to see all the bandaged areas on his face. It has motivated me to be more diligent about protecting my skin and my children’s. My kids complain about my insistence with their sunscreen application and the constant reminders (they may refer to that as nagging!) and I still help my youngest son in getting those hard to reach places. While I’m applying, he’s protesting and my response is always “You’ll thank me when you’re 40!” After my dad’s most recent Mohs procedure, he got a black eye based on the proximity of the area they were working on. I begged him to take a selfie and send it to all of the older grandkids. My dad is not big on selfies, nor sharing a less than photogenic moment. But, after a couple of days, he did honor my request and sent the pic to them with a funny caption of “you should see the other guy!” All of this leads me to sharing more tips on sunscreen use. Summer is in full swing and we are spending more time outdoors. Also, our days are longer and we are seeing more hours of sunlight. We all know that we are recommended to protect our skin with sunscreen.
Here are some interesting and informative things to think about.
Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. So how much should a person apply? Most adults need one ounce. A good visual to think of is how much you would need to fill a shot glass – that roughly equals an ounce.
You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Make sure you get those areas that receive a lot of rays – shoulders, the back of your neck, the tops of your ears, your nose and your head, especially if you don’t have much hair. A wide-brimmed hat can also give extra protection.
Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Remember, people of all skin colors are at-risk for sunburn and other harmful effects of UV radiation, so always protect yourself. Be especially careful if you have:
- pale skin
- blond, red, or light brown hair
- been treated for skin cancer
- a family member who has had skin cancer
Listen to this Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minute on melanoma risk factors.