Utah has the fifth highest rate of mortality from malignant melanoma in the nation and has one of the highest rates of other types of skin cancer in the United States. Since the development of skin cancer is, in most cases, directly related to sun exposure, it is important to protect your skin from the sun´s damaging rays.
- Sunscreens are preparations containing chemicals that react with the skin to create a “screen” against the sun. For your sunscreen to be most effective, you must apply it at least 30 minutes before going outside to give it a chance to begin working. All sunscreens list an SPF (sun protection factor). We generally recommend an SPF of 30 or higher. It is very important to reapply sunscreen frequently, particularly if you are outdoors for any extended period of time. Because even sunscreens with a very high SPF break down upon exposure, we recommend that sunscreens be reapplied every one to two hours.
- Unfortunately, sunscreens do not afford total protection against sun damage. While sunscreens will protect you from the burning rays of the sun, they will not protect you from the tanning rays, which can also cause skin cancer.
- Sunblocks are preparations that contain chemicals, specifically titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, that act as a barrier against the sun. Because they create a physical block, they protect you from all of the sun´s rays. Like sunscreens, sunblocks list a sun protection factor, indicating how long you can be in the sun before reapplying. Look for sunblocks that contain 7-9% titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. You will find that sunblocks may be hard to rub in and may not be as cosmetically appealing as sunscreens, but they are a better alternative for sun protection.
- Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when out in the sun. Choose tightly-woven materials for greater protection from the sun´s rays. Some companies produce clothing particularly for sun protection.
- Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when out in the sun. Choose tightly-woven materials for greater protection from the sun´s rays. Some companies produce clothing particularly for sun protection.
- Minimize sun exposure during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest. Try to plan your outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon.
- Avoid tanning parlors. The UV light emitted by tanning booths causes sunburn and premature aging, and increases your risk of developing skin cancer.