Protecting Your Skin From The Sun

Protecting Your Skin From The Sun


One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems — as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Apply generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring. A higher SPF number indicates increased protection. The Canadian Dermatological Association recommends using at least SPF 30 to protect against UVB rays. The sunscreen should also include ingredients to protect against UVA rays. Sunscreen should be used even on cloudy or cool days as damage from the sun’s rays can still occur.  The shelf life of sunscreen is typically three years, less if it has been stored in high temperatures.

Protect Your Lips. Just like the rest of your skin, your lips need protection from the sun to help prevent skin cancer. Use lip balm with SPF 15 or higher (SPF 30 is preferable).

Wear the right head gear and clothing.  A wide-brimmed hat can protect your face, ears and neck from the sun. If wearing a baseball cap, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears. Wear protective clothing that covers exposed areas.

Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Be aware of medications that increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some antibiotics and over-the-counter medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Common drugs include antihistamines, such as Benadryl; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin or ibuprofen; certain antibiotics, antidepressants; antipsychotics; and some oral diabetic medications. Check with your pharmacist regarding your medication side effects.

Perform regular skin checks. Look for any changes to moles, freckles or birthmarks. Additionally, monitor any new skin changes that have occurred. Have regular skin evaluations by your health care provider or dermatologist.