Sun Protection

By Linda Manwarren

The sun’s warmth is welcome following a cold winter, but these days managing the sun and heat are at the front of my mind.

My first thought concerns the sun itself. Dangers from the sun’s rays and their effect on our skin are real and a growing issue. Health Canada reports that the number of people getting skin cancer has been increasing in Canada at a constant rate over the past 30 years, and most of these are in our senior population. In their younger years, little was known about how too much sun could cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Based on current rates, one in 73 Canadian women will develop melanoma during their lifetime while one in 59 Canadian men will develop the disease. By protecting your skin from too much sun you can help prevent the onset of skin cancer and more sun damage to the skin. It is never too late to develop habits of sun protection. Wearing long sleeves and a hat, avoiding being in the sun between 10 and 2, and staying in the shade are simple things you can do to reduce exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Using sunscreen deserves significant consideration. It is widely recommended to choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The SPF measures the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. Sunscreen is most effective when you use it properly. Here are some points to keep in mind.

  • Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before you go out into the sun. This will allow the sunscreen time to soak into your skin and provide the maximum benefit.
  • Generally, apply sunscreen every two hours especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Check the expiration date. Many sunscreens and good for at least two years, but containers that have been exposed to heat for long periods may not work as well.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medication. Some drugs can increase sensitivity to the sun. When a medication has been prescribed, check the common side effects with your doctor.

By using a combination of sun protection measures, seniors can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer. Keeping your skin healthy can help you enjoy your senior years to the fullest!