The statistics are sobering. Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US and over 90% are caused by the sun. What may surprise some people is that you don’t have to be actively sunbathing to get a damaging dose of the sun. Sun protection is an important health habit for everyone and is key to preventing skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
With our fast-paced lifestyles, it’s easy to grab whatever sunscreen is on the shelf and head outdoors or worse, forget the sunscreen altogether. But with skin cancer on the rise, there are important facts to consider.
UVA vs UVB
One distinction that sometimes confuses people is the difference between the sun’s ultraviolet rays. UVA and UVB simply refer to the different wave lengths. The important thing to know is that the UVA rays cause the skin to take on a darker shade, whereas UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns. Both types of UV rays play a part in skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancers and both require a sun protection regimen that includes the correct and routine use of sunscreen.
Choosing a Sunscreen
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, refers to how long it will take UVB rays to burn your skin compared to not wearing anything at all. For example, wearing SPF 15 will take 15 times longer to redden your skin than if you were not wearing any protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using SPF of 15 or higher. That said, SPF gives your 93% protection against UVB rays and SPF 30 gives you 97% protection.