by skin care expert Heather Anderson

Be smart and protect yourself and those around you from the damaging effects of the sun!

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can cause skin cancer.  Daily sunscreen use prevents both the development of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, unprotected sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.

Controversy exists in relation to sunscreen use and vitamin D synthesis. Some try to argue that we need sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis by the skin. Yes the skin does synthesize vitamin D from the sun, but we can get adequate amounts of Vitamin from other sources. The easiest way is through our diet. Salmon, tuna, dairy products, and iron fortified cereal and juices are great ways to introduce Vitamin D into our diet. Vitamin D supplements are also widely available; speak with your physician regarding the correct dosage.

Sunscreens work by absorbing and/or reflecting the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation that causes skin damage. When looking for a sunscreen, choose one that offers broad-spectrum coverage. “Broad-spectrum” sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays lead to aging of the skin, while UVB rays lead to sunburn. Also select a product that contains an SPF of 30 or higher.

As a bonus, many of the sunscreens available today contain antioxidants. UV radiation contributes to the development of free radicals in the body that lead to skin damage and aging. Antioxidants work by preventing the build-up of free radicals in the body. By choosing a sunscreen that also contains an antioxidant you are getting a second level of protection.

Daily sunscreen use helps to prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging. Choose a broad-spectrum product with both UVA and UVB protection, an SPF of 30 or higher, and if available, contains an antioxidant. If you are out in the sun for a lengthy period of time, sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours. Protective hats and clothing can also be worn for additional protection.

It’s important to remember that our grandchildren are so very susceptible to sun damage. Let’s not forget they need protection! When choosing sunscreen for kids of all ages, look for “physical” or “chemical free” products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens can be irritating, while physical blockers sit on top of the skin to protect it.  As with adults, kids should apply sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or higher. When children are outside for long periods of time and in the water, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

Here’s to a happy, safe, and sunscreen-filled summer for you and your family…

Heather Anderson is a Nurse Practitioner and owner of Anderson Medical Aesthetics in Scottsdale, AZ. She is a skin care expert with over 10 years of practice in the field of Cosmetic Dermatology. You can contact Heather directly via email.