Posts for tag: basal cell carcinoma

Skin cancer is the most common cancer of all cancers today.   It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will have a skin cancer during their life time.  Over 3 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year.   The harmful rays of the sun contribute to the development of rough scaling precancer spots termed actinic keratosis,  basal cell carcinomas (BCC), squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), and  the deadly melanoma cancer.   Each of these growths can lead to bigger problems and require treatment.  Some cancers can even become life threatening.   Skin cancer prevention is a major reason to wear sunscreen.  

Which sunscreen should I buy?

The important point here is to buy a sunscreen you will wear.  This means the one which you tolerate best.  There are now sunscreens available in lotions, creams, sprays and powders (of which many active people who sweat prefer the powder).   Find the right product for your skin.  Then you need to pick the right ingredients.  All sunscreens block UV-B  the rays, which cause sunburn, but not all block UV-A rays.   In fact, only a few ingredients block UV-A rays and provide true broad spectrum coverage.  The strongest UV-A blockers are thought to be  Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone) and Meroxyl.   Of these, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are labeled as physical blockers which bounce the sun off the skin rather than absorb it, so many clinicians prefer these.  

 When do I need sunscreen?

The most important time to wear sunscreen is when the sun is intense.   This is mostly between 10 am and 2 pm. However,  a little known fact is that up to 85% of our sun exposure comes from incidental sun exposure.  This means the trips to the grocery store, work, etc. are the times we get most of our sun damage over a life time.   Though most of us don’t do this, we should wear sunscreen on a daily basis.   This would reduce dramatically our cumulative sun damage.

 So what SPF do I need?

This is better understood if you learn about SPF.  So please take a minute to read so you make the right decision.  SPF stands for sun protective factor.  More simply,  it is a laboratory measure indicating a person under lab conditions would take longer to burn as represented by the rating on the bottle.   An SPF of 15 used by someone who normally burns in 10 minutes at the noon time sun would take 15 times as long to burn (150 minutes) if using the sunscreen properly.     The SPF also dictates how much of the UV is blocked.    The amount of UV blocked for SPF 15 is 93%, for SPF 30 is 96.7%, and SPF 45 is 98.5%.   So wearing an SPF of 60 does not provide double the protection of SPF 30 but rather takes the SPF number from 96.7% closer to the 100% mark.  Thus many researchers indicate an SPF higher than 30 does not yield much more protection.   So use an SPF 30 or higher.