Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the greatest risk factor for developing skin cancer and sadly over the past years, rates of white and black skin cancer have been rising.
White Skin cancer (non melanoma skin cancer) includes several kinds of skin cancer types. Briefly explained these types of cancers usually occur in the elderly and are strongly associated with the cumulative dose of UV radiation exposure over life-time. In the majority of cases this type of cancer can be treated surgically.
Melanomas are a much more aggressive type of skin cancer having several risk factors that can’t be influenced easily like genetics, poor immune function, fair skin and immunodeficiency. The one risk factor that can be changed however, is sun damage at young age. Therefore adequate sun protection – especially for children!! – is an essential topic and there are important facts to consider:
Avoid direct sun exposure:
UV radiation varies during the day and has a peek around noon. Direct sun exposure should be avoided from 11 am to 3 pm. If staying inside or protected (!!!) in the shade is not possible, the following tips can be helpful:
Clothing is more important than sunscreen:
Wearing protective clothing is the most effective way to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays (except staying inside), much more effective than wearing sun screen (as a recent study showed). Optimal are long sleeved shirts with a collar, a long pair of trousers, sunglasses and a wide brim sun hut, to guarantee sun protection for the neck and ears! Be aware that thin summery cotton shirts may only have an effect of SPF 10. Some exercise clothing brands explicitly state the SPF on their products! As this suggestion might be quite uncomfortable during hot days, just do your best and add sunscreen to exposed skin! Everything is better than nothing! 😊
Correct use of sunscreen:
A broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF 30 or higher should be used at least every two hours. A common mistake is only applying sunscreen once in the morning. Also make sure to use a sufficient amount of product. The skin should be covered generously. Normal and also “waterproof” sunscreen should be reapplied directly after swimming.
Cloudy days and spring – autumn – winter season:
When the sun is not present and the sky is gray sunscreen is also necessary as well as in seasons with less sun presence (autumn and winter). Skin damage does not only occur from a bad sun burn but also from a constant exposure to UV radiation.
A tanned skin might be trendy nowadays but there is a great down side: UV radiation is directly linked to aging as it damages the elastin and collagen structures in our skin. Furthermore hyperpigmentation is caused after chronic sun exposure also known as “age spots”. My personal tip is to integrate sun screen into your daily skin care. There is a growing range of moisturizers and make – up with added SPF. Aim for SPF 50+ and apply it every day of the year – summer and winter.