What You Need to Know: Springtime and Sun Exposureby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
Spring is coming! The warm weather is on its way and for those in northern and southern states alike, the opportunity to spend more time outside is more than welcome. But even though it’s only spring, there are a number a reasons you shouldn’t forego using sunscreen.
You might think that springtime sun exposure is less dangerous than summer sun exposure. After all, it isn’t as warm and therefore the sun must not be as strong - right? Wrong. UVA rays from the sun are consistent all year round - not just in the summer. So, take heed and protect your skin against damage, aging, and skin disease.
11 little-known facts about springtime and sunscreen:
1. Every year, more than 3.5 new cases of skin cancerare diagnosed in the United States.
2. Excessive sun exposure is considered to be the main cause of skin cancer, in fact it is thought that up to 90 percent of all skin cancers can be attributed to sun exposure.
Intermittent sun exposure, meaning you are exposed to the sun on a irregular basis (think staying indoors during the winter and suddenly being in the sun for hours), has been shown to be closely related to melanoma.
4. Springtime sun is sometimes considered more dangerous because the temperatures are cooler and you are not always aware of how much sun you are getting.
5. Springtime is a great time to purchase a new bottle of sunscreen. Not everyone realizes that sunscreen expires and loses its effectiveness over time. It is not recommended to use last year’s sunscreen again this year. Springtime is a good time to buy a new bottle.
6. Be sure to use enough sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. You should use a the equivalent of a quarter size dab for your face and neck alone. For head to foot (assuming you are wearing a bathing suit), you should apply the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen.
Sunscreen breaks down when it is exposed to sunlight, sweat or water. That’s why it is recommended that you reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you are spending more than two hours outdoors, you should be reapplying your sunscreen.
You should apply sunscreen at the end of your skin-care regimen**.** Applying products, such as moisturizers or makeup over your sunscreen is going to dilute its effectiveness. Be sure to make sunscreen your final step.
It is recommended that synthetic sunscreens -** those containing avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone - are applied 20 minutes before going outdoors.** Mineral based sunscreens - those containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide - do not need the 20 minute set-up time and are effectively immediately after they are applied.
It is important to also protect your eyes. Between five and 10 percent of skin cancers occur on the eyelids according to the Skin Cancer Society. Be sure to use UV-blocking sunglasses. Those with large frames or a wrap-around style with side shields are best.
Follow the same rules for sun protection as you do in the summer - wear sunscreen, avoid sitting directly in the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, wear a wide-brimmed hat, wear comfortable clothing with long-sleeves and legs.
During the springtime, we start to shed layers of clothing. This is a great time to do a self-skin check. If you notice any moles or dark spots that weren’t there previously or ones that have changed over the recent months, see your dermatologist immediately. Many experts recommend an annual dermatologist skin check - the start of spring is a great way to remind yourself that it is time for a skin check.