Cumulative sun damage is directly related to the development of Actinic Keratosis and Squamous Cell Cancer. For melanoma and Basal Cell Cancer, the sun exposure we get until age 19 is thought to play the biggest role and episodes of severe sunburn seem to contribute the most to future risk for developing BCC or melanoma.
Sunscreen should be seen as an additional measure to decrease the incidence of skin cancer. Avoidance of sun exposure and using sun protection measures (hats, clothing etc.) should be the main strategies to limit UV radiation. Be extra careful during midday (11 am to 3 pm) and keep in mind that UV rays get reflected by water and snow resulting in up to double the UV exposure. Keep in mind that studies have shown that most people only put on 1/3 of the amount of cream necessary to meet the SPF rating for individual creams.
- Mineral (inorganic) sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both safe and effective
- SPF 30+ is sufficient
- Consider using sunscreen daily and re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours when outdoors
- SPF rated lipbalm hourly when needed
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References and further reading:
- Photoprotection Part I. Photoprotection by naturally occurring, physical, and systemic agents. Rebecca Jansen, Steven Q.Wang, Mark Burnett, Uli Osterwalder, HenryW. Lim. JAAD December 2013.
- Photoprotection Part II. Sunscreen: Development, efficacy and controversies. Rebecca Jansen, Steven Q.Wang, Mark Burnett, Uli Osterwalder, Henry W. Lim. JAAD December 2013.