Among the most prevalent and universal issues within the field of dermatology is inadequate sun protection. A wide range of changes to the skin — which include the development of melanoma, and other forms of skin cancer, as well as wrinkles and photodamage — are attributed to exposure to the sun, from which the effects can be permanent and life-threatening. Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery offers comprehensive screening for skin cancer and melanoma, as well as dermatology surgery. For more information about dermatologist-treated skin conditions, or to schedule an appointment with a Gainesville dermatologist, contact us.

How To Prevent Sun Exposure

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States of America — one person dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The most preventable risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma is exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Protect your skin with the following. For more information about melanoma treatment with our dermatology clinic, contact us today.

  • Avoid sun exposure, especially between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade while outdoors during daylight hours
  • Wear long-sleeve, protective clothing while outdoors
  • Avoid surfaces that reflect light, such as water, concrete, and sand
  • Never use tanning beds and sun lamps
  • Apply sunscreen generously and regularly on a daily basis

Dermatologist-Recommended Sunscreen Tips

One of the most effective methods for preventing the development of skin cancer is the daily use and reapplication of dermatologist-approved sun protection products. Contact us to learn about the skin care products available at Gainesville Dermatology Aesthetic Center.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

Sunscreens are products which combine several ingredients that help prevent two types of harmful UV rays from penetrating the skin — long-wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short-wave ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin and UVB rays typically burn superficial skin layers, while both UVA and UVB radiation promote the development of skin cancer and melanoma. Sunscreens vary widely in their abilities to adequately protect against UVA and UVB rays.  

What Is SPF?

Sun protection factor (SPF), is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to deflect UVB rays. The SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time required to burn with regard to sunscreen-protected skin and unprotected skin. Gainesville dermatology experts recommend the daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen — which protects the skin against UVA and UVB rays — with an SPF of 35 or higher to protect against sunburn, to reduce the risk of skin cancer, and to prevent photodamage and photoaging, or premature skin aging due to sun exposure. When applied properly and regularly, sunscreens with an SPF of at least 35 block 97 percent or more of the sun’s rays. However, because no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays, it’s important to ensure the regular use of other methods for sun protection.

Who Should Use Sunscreen?

Everyone, including children, should use sunscreen on a daily basis to aid in the prevention of skin cancer and other harmful results of unprotected sun exposure. However, babies who are younger than 6 months should avoid direct sun exposure due to increased skin sensitivity. To ensure protection from the sun, individuals who are older than 6 months should use a water-resistant or sweat-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 35 on all areas of exposed skin, including the face, the body, and any other exposed portions of skin.

Physical Sunscreen Vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreens (or mineral sunscreens) and chemical sunscreens (or traditional sunscreens) are differentiated by their active sun-protection ingredients. Physical sunscreens work like a shield by resting on the surface of the skin and deflecting the sun’s rays. This type of sunscreen has active ingredients, such as zinc oxide, and is a favorable choice for those who have sensitive skin. Chemical sunscreens work as a sponge by absorbing the sun’s rays. This type of formula is often considered to be easier to rub into the skin than physical sunscreens. While both types of sunscreens can provide sun protection, certain sunscreen formulas and ingredients may be more beneficial than others. Our Gainesville dermatologists can provide patients with sun care recommendations based upon their specific needs and skin type.

How To Select Sunscreen

The most effective way to choose a sunscreen with beneficial ingredients, adequate protection abilities from both UVA and UVB rays, and an ideal formula is with the help of a dermatologist in Gainesville, FL. Look for sunscreens that offer these features:

  • Broad-spectrum
  • SPF 35 or higher
  • UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant and sweat-resistant
  • Free from alcohol, fragrances, and preservatives
  • Purchase date is prior to the printed expiration date

Individuals who commonly experience skin sensitivity or skin allergies, as well as children, should avoid sunscreens with skin-irritating ingredients such as para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzophenones, which include dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. For more information about sunscreen ingredients, schedule a dermatology appointment today.

How To Apply Sunscreen

No matter how beneficial the formula of a sunscreen, adequate sun protection requires proper application of sunscreen. Patients should apply sunscreen generously at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. The amount of sunscreen required depends based on a number of factors, including the duration of sunlight exposure, the geographic location, and the person’s size.

Most adults require about 1 ounce — enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass — for full body coverage. Shake the bottle vigorously and rub the product into the skin thoroughly — don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the neck, the face, the ears, the feet, and the legs. For hard-to-reach areas, such as the back, ask for help with application. To protect the scalp, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and to ensure the lips are protected, apply a lip balm with an SPF of at least 35.

To remain protected while outdoors, individuals must reapply a generous amount of sunscreen every two hours, or immediately following swimming or sweating. Those who experience a significant amount of perspiration or contact with water should apply additional layers of sunscreen more frequently, in accordance with their specific skin protection needs.

Five Skin Cancer Self-Examination Steps

The first line of defense against skin cancer starts with actions of the patient. In addition to using daily sun-protection methods, patients should examine the skin on a regular basis for signs of skin cancer and proceed to consult a dermatologist if any skin irregularities are present. The following self-examination steps can result in the early diagnosis of skin cancer.

  1. Use a mirror to examine both the front and back of the body, including the left and right sides of the body with the arms raised.
  2. Bend the elbows and carefully inspect skin on the forearms, the upper arms, the underarms, and the palms.
  3. Inspect the back of the legs and the feet as well as the skin between the toes and the soles of the feet.
  4. Examine the back of the neck and the scalp with a mirror, parting the hair for a more thorough inspection.
  5. Check all areas of skin on the back and the buttocks with a hand-mirror.