What kind of sunscreen do you really need?

What kind of sunscreen do you really need?

Do you regularly wear sunscreen?

It’s a question you’ve likely been asked by your doctor when you’ve gone in for a visit or had an e-visit. But just how important is this question?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s very important.

“Even one tanning bed use before the age of 35 can significantly increase one’s risk of skin cancer. Sun burns can increase the risk of skin cancer, and tanning can increase the risk of skin cancer,” explains Dr. Daniel Hertel, dermatologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, WI.

Enter sunscreen. An SPF of 30 or higher blocks 97% or more of ultraviolet rays. And be sure to choose one that is broad-spectrum, as it protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. What are the differences between the two?

  • UVA rays are aging rays and damage the skin in such a way that causes your skin to wrinkle and produce age spots. These rays can pass through glass, such as windows. Find out about other ways you may be prematurely aging your skin.
  • UVB rays are burning rays. These rays cause sunburn and cannot pass through windows and other glass.

Dr. Hertel advises people self-check their moles and skin for signs of cancer.

“Anything that’s new, growing, or bleeding is something that is worth mentioning to your doctor,” he says.

If one of your major concerns is getting enough vitamin D, there are ways you can get some without the sun. But any time you are in the sun, however, you should be arming yourself with sunscreen and reapplying regularly if you are swimming/getting wet or sweating.

In addition to slathering on the sunscreen, Dr. Hertel suggests avoiding sun exposure during peak times (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and to wear protective clothing, such as a hat with a brim.

If you notice changes to your skin, contact your health care professional immediately.

“Skin cancer is very treatable if it’s caught early,” Dr. Hertel says, “and it can be very deadly if it is allowed to invade and spread to other parts of the body.”

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About the Author

Brianna Wunsch
Brianna Wunsch

Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.