The sun is shining bright, but you don’t have to worry because you have your sunscreen on, right? May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection Month. More specifically, May 24th is National Sunscreen Day! Here at EdenHill, we have several activities that take place outside. We want our residents to have fun, while keeping their skin healthy.

There are two type of UV rays we need to protect ourselves against:

UVA Rays – Accounts for 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. They are less intense than UVB, but are more prevalent and penetrate deeper into the skin. UVA rays play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling, and may initiate the development of skin cancers.

UVB Rays – The chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. They play a key role in the development of skin cancer and is a contributor to skin aging.

Before purchasing a sunscreen, be sure to read the label. Below are a few tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Check the SPF: Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. SPF 15 filters out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 100 filters out about 99%. It’s important to note that sunscreen does not protect you completely, however, it’s much safer than not wearing it at all. Sunscreen is your preventative for sunburn, skin cancer, and skin aging. Use it!
  • Look for “Broad Spectrum” Protection: If you see a sunscreen with this written on the label, it will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays. All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging. Only certain products pass a test and can display the “broad spectrum” label. Be sure to find a product that gives you double the protection to fight off both types of rays.
  • Ingredients: To make sure you’re getting effective UVA and UVB coverage, look for a combination of the following UVA-screening ingredients: stabilized a avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide.
  • “Water Resistant” Is Not “Waterproof”: Sunscreens are not waterproof or “sweatproof”. If the product claims to be water resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes, while swimming or sweating. Be sure to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours, and even more often if you’ve been exposed to water.

Sunscreen is a protective barrier that can be used as a preventative to skin cancers and aging. Unfortunately, sunscreen doesn’t completely protect you from the harmful rays of the sun and you should be aware of how much sun you get every day. Remember to always wear your water resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and see your physician every year for a professional skin exam. Lather up and enjoy the sunshine!