Ten of the Least Suspected Sources of UV Skin Damage
While we all know time spent baking on a beach without sunscreen is not a good idea, there are other, more routine things we all do that can be just as damaging to our skin and lead to UV skin damage. Since skin cancers account for just about half of all cancers in the U.S. according to American Cancer Society numbers, making some simple changes in your behavior this summer, and from now on, could help you beat the odds.
Here are ten surprising things we all do that put our skin at risk:
1. Driving without sunscreen - the glass in your car windows and sunroof doesn’t block UVA rays that cause damage to all types of skin.
2. Sitting in the shade without sunscreen - damaging UV rays bounce off water and sand, even into shady spots.
3. Using old sunscreen - if it’s from 1-3 years old, you need to replace it, then mark the purchase date on your new bottle, so you’ll know when to get rid of what’s left. Also, don’t store sunscreen in the car as the heat can cause the ingredients to separate and oxidize.
4. Not applying sunscreen often enough - most of us use only 25-50% of the recommended amount. For sunscreen to work, you need to use the right amount, which is about a shot glass full, applied all over your body and rubbed in well. Reapply after 2-3 hours, or when you come out of the water or are doing heavy work or exercise that makes you sweat a lot.
5. Not wearing sunscreen on a cloudy day - UVA rays penetrate clouds more readily on these overcast days than UVB rays do, so while you might not feel the heat or see the sun, days with cloud cover aren’t without risk of sunburn or other damaging, aging affects.
6. Expecting protection from a “base” tan - a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found exposure to UV rays during indoor tanning is harmful to eyes as well as skin cell DNA, leading to premature aging.
7. Using water-resistant when you need waterproof - there’s a big difference (40 minutes of sun protection for water-resistant; 80 minutes of sun protection for waterproof) between the two formulas. Still no matter which you choose you need to re-apply after time in the water
8. Not protecting your head with a hat - to cover your head, the tops of your ears and neck area (or any thinning spots up top) that aren’t normally exposed to the sun, or protected with sunscreen.
9. Relying on regular clothing as protection - some manufacturers have created new items made from Ultraviolet Protective Factor (UPF) that offers 97.5% protection from the sun. By contrast, a white tee offers an SPF of 7/8 if dry, but only 3 when wet.
10. Taking medications like certain antibiotics or antihistamines - these drugs increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, causing sunburn that can be rather severe. Anyone taking these medications should stay out of the sun, wear (and avidly re-apply) sunscreen and remain indoors as much as possible.
The best way to protect yourself from skin damage, besides watching out for these ten little-known hazards, is to wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 that will bring you 95% protection.
Sunscreen is the best thing you can do to protect your skin, but remember the number on the bottle doesn’t mean you’re that many times safer, it simply means you’d burn that many times sooner without product.
Higher SPF’s bring incrementally more protection, but not even SPF 50 gets you to 100%. Re-applying rigorously with a lower SPF is just as protective as using a higher number less vigilantly.
And since SPF only refers to the protection against UVB rays, the FDA has taken its time developing new labeling guidelines for sunscreen manufacturers.
These products will soon be sporting a 4 star UVA rating (low, medium, high or highest), though the companies have a year to 18 months to implement the changes once put in place.
While you’re waiting, look for at least one of these UVA protective ingredients – avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or ecamsule in any sun protection product you buy to help avoid UV skin damage.
Next just head on over to the Daily Health Bulletin for more information why it’s so important to avoid UV skin damage from the sun or artificial means. Plus get 5 free fantastic health reports.