Now that spring is here and you will no doubt be spending more time outdoors in the sunshine, it’s time to talk about sunscreen. As you age, your skin becomes thinner and more delicate. Seniors are more prone to the dangers of sun exposure, including sunburn and skin cancer. So, what can you do to protect yourself this spring?
The Dangers of Sun Exposure
While sunscreen should be a vital part of your skin regimen, it’s important for you to understand the big picture. Keep the following in mind:
- Try to avoid the sun during peak UV hours
No matter what season it is, try staying out of the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. These are the hours of the day that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is at its strongest and most damaging to skin.
- Wear protective clothing
Always start with a hat to protect your face, then follow with pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Always use sunscreen
The key to any sun exposure program is sunscreen. Apply liberally and often…even on overcast days.
What is a “Broad Spectrum” Sunscreen?
The sun produces both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the ones which can penetrate into deep layers of your skin and suppress you immune system. They also cause wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays are the ones which burn the superficial layer of your skin, producing what’s known as sunburn. When you are exposed to too much sunlight, it increases your chance of developing skin cancer. For this reason, it’s important to buy a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB light.
Do You Need the Highest SPF Sunscreen?
The sun protection factor, or SPF, is an easy way to measure how well the sunscreen is able to deflect UVB rays. Unfortunately, there’s current standard for measuring UVA protection. Ideally, the best sunscreen has a high SPF number. Many dermatologists recommend using a product with an SPF of 30 or more. However, the key to protection is applying sunscreen on a consistent basis throughout the day. Apply it in a thick layer, rub it in completely and reapply after sweating or swimming.
What Else Should Seniors Know About Sunscreen?
- Apply sunscreen on dry skin at least 30 minutes before going outdoors.
- Apply sunscreen to all skin surfaces that will be exposed to the sun.
- Remember that clouds, water, sand and snow all reflect sunlight and make you even more prone to sunburn.
UVA rays are able to penetrate glass, so seniors should also use sunscreen when driving in a car or when inside a rooms with lots of windows.