Friday, May 20

The six areas we often overlook when applying sunscreen

Every time we go outside, especially now during the hottest months, we expose our skin to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet UV rays. Even if the day is cloudy, up to 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the skin. If we do not protect our skin well, we can suffer burns.

The five keys to getting your sun cream right

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The different types of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun can damage the skin in just 15 minutes. UVA rays can cause signs of aging and UVB rays can cause sunburn. Excessive exposure to these rays can lead to skin cancer, the main ones being basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

In 2020, skin carcinomas in Spain had an incidence rate of 47 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC). The melanoma rate is lower (12 cases per 100,000 inhabitants).

According to the Association of the American Academy of Dermatology, an adult would need to apply a few 28 grams (two tablespoons) of sunscreen all over the body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, after swimming or sweating. However, he adds that most people only apply between 25-50% of this amount.

And in many cases, in addition to not applying enough, we tend to neglect some sensitive parts of the body.

The most neglected areas are:

  • Scalp: we rarely think about protecting our scalp, which can lead us, after a day at the beach, to feel a certain itch or redness. In addition, as we age our hair becomes thinner and the scalp is exposed to the sun more. According to Skin Cancer Foundation, the number of skin cancers of the scalp increases as people age. We can apply a spray sunscreen every two hours or cover our heads with a hat.
  • Ears– It’s so easy to skip this part when applying sunscreen. It is important to pay attention to the area behind the ears, the top, the sides and the bottom and any external parts that are visible.
  • Eyelids– The skin around the eyes is thin and susceptible to both sun damage and skin cancer. Although the best way to protect the eyelids is sunglasses, we can also use cream as a sunscreen bar for sensitive skin (it can be less irritating than the chemical if it enters the eye).
  • Lips: Sun protection in this area is important because once sun damage has occurred, you are at increased risk of developing into an aggressive form of carcinoma. Waxy-based stick products that adhere to these delicate areas are very effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using a lip balm with a sunscreen factor (SPF) of broad spectrum of 15 or more. This dissolves if we eat and drink, therefore, we must apply it often.
  • Neck and chest: We are usually very effective in protecting our face from the sun, but not our neck or chest. While the entire neck needs protection, including the front, the sides and the back of the neck are especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Just below the neck, and in the area above the shirt that is uncovered (especially if it is V-shaped and low-cut), it is another delicate area that is often forgotten.
  • Feet: we usually expose our feet to the sun with the use of sandals. Therefore, sun protection should go beyond the ankles and cover the entire foot (including the sole), each toe, and around the nails.

Various studies show that certain types of skin cancer appear frequently in these areas because we don’t protect them like we should.

How should we apply sunscreen

Sunscreen is not effective if it is not applied the right way. The Association of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advise:

  • Choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, resistant to water and with a broad spectrum coverage (against UVA and UVB rays).
  • Apply before going outdoors, do not wait when we are out because the skin usually takes about 15 minutes to absorb it.
  • Use enough quantity. Experts advise about 28 grams, the measure of the palm of the hand, to cover the entire body.
  • If we stay in the open air, apply every two hours or after sweating or swimming.

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