National Sunscreen Day: Why Skin Protection Is Essential and Easy Tips
7 minute read
National Sunscreen Day is May 24, 2019, which is jokingly called “Don’t Fry Day.” But using sunscreen is actually very serious because it can help protect you from dangerous UV rays and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is more prevalent than you may imagine. With one in five people in the United States developing it, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined. Here is how to enjoy National Sunscreen Day safely.
Why Always Using Sunscreen Is Important
Let’s face it, slapping on a layer of sunscreen is sometimes inconvenient—it can be greasy, you don’t want to get any on your clothes, it’s hard to reapply when you’ve already done your make-up, etc.
There are a lot of excuses for not using sunscreen, but those excuses don’t matter much compared to the consequences of not using sunscreen enough. Let’s look at some reasons why protecting your skin is so important:
An immediate and painful reminder that you just spent too much time in the sun unprotected. But a sunburn is worse than an annoyance, and the idea that a sunburn “turns into” a tan is just a myth.
A sunburn is damaged skin. If you look under a microscope, you’d see that the cells and even blood vessels have been damaged. Repeated burns can disfigure and weaken the skin, which leaves it more vulnerable.
Premature Skin Aging
There are a lot of things that cause aging, the biggest one being aging itself. But looking old before your time is no fun, and the sun can be one of the biggest culprits when it comes to premature skin aging.
Repeated exposure to the sun causes the skin to lose its elasticity, which causes wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and a thinning of the skin. Sunburns reach deeper than the top layer of the skin and sometimes damage cells to a point beyond repair.
Probably the most important reason to use sunscreen is that simply applying this product to your skin can help you avoid cancer.
There are different types of skin cancer, and all of them can be caused by sun exposure. Nonmelanoma skin cancer accounts for most diagnoses, and it encompasses basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most prevalent skin cancers.
The good news is theses two types of cancer tend to grow relatively slowly, so you have a greater chance of early detection and a good prognosis.
Melanoma is a more dangerous form of cancer. It is usually related to skin cancer, but it can be found elsewhere as well. Because most melanoma occurs on the skin and it can be seen with regular (monthly) self-inspections, you can get treatment early on in the disease.
But melanoma is nothing to procrastinate over, as it can spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs, bones, and brain, and then it becomes more difficult to treat.
It is believed that nearly 90% of all melanoma comes from exposure to ultraviolet rays, either from the sun or tanning beds. This means that your first line of defense is protecting yourself from exposure.
Ways to Protect Your Skin From Exposure
While sunscreen is the star of the day, it definitely has a cast of supporting heroes that help protect your skin from sun exposure. The best way to protect yourself is to use several of the following tips in conjunction with each other:
Your head, face, neck, and ears tend to be the places where sun damage hits the hardest, and some of those spots are hard to reach with sunscreen. This is when a nice, wide-brimmed hat can be your best friend and offer you the protection you need.
All clothing offers some protection from the sun, and simply covering up your skin can save it from damage. But if you know you’re going to be outside most of the day, look for lightweight clothing that has been treated for UV protection. That added protection can be exactly what you need.
UV rays can damage the skin around your eyes and cause premature aging, but they can also damage your eyes. The sun can cause many serious eye conditions and can even lead to blindness. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection are a great line of defense.
Think About Driving
When you’re in your car, the glass protects you from UVB rays, which are thought to be the most damaging, but the UVA rays get through and can cause skin damage, too. While the glass offers some protection, when you’re driving with the windows down, the sunroof open, or a convertible top down, you’re fully exposed.
| Related: When Should Seniors Let Go of the Wheel? |
Most people don’t realize that they’re exposed to sun damage while driving outside of a “trucker’s tan.” Protect yourself with added sun tinting or screens, sunscreen, keeping your windows up, and protective clothing.
Shade Is Your Friend
Whether you bring the shade along or seek natural shade, it’s a great way to protect your skin from damage. If you’re sitting outside, look for a shady spot and enjoy the day safely.
The Bottom Line
Skin cancer is far more prevalent and dangerous than most people realize. It’s estimated that one in five people will develop some form of skin cancer before they’re 70. And we’re exposed to dangerous rays from the sun constantly, even on cloudy days.
Going beyond skin cancer, the sun can cause additional damage to your body by burning and destroying cells, premature aging, and even causing some vision problems. The best way to protect yourself is to go on the offensive and start making sunscreen a habit.
While sunscreen is the best way to protect yourself from skin cancer, you can take some other measures to boost your chances of avoiding damage. Wear a hat and protective clothing, invest in good UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses, and seek shade whenever possible. Safety and sun are the top priorities for a great Sunscreen Day.