June 25th, 2018

To Your Health: Summer protection

By Gillian Slade on June 19, 2017.

When you are young it is easy to dismiss the dangers of the sun. It is only when it is hard, if not impossible, to reverse the signs of sun damage that we wish we had limited our exposure to the sun.

If you’re not convinced that it will catch up with you I suggest watching YouTube videos showing the signs of sun damage and age spots, which are related to sun damage. Some of us need graphic reminders of the seriousness of sun damage and malignant melanoma.

The good news is the wide range of products, for almost every skin type, to protect you from the sun.

One of the easiest ways to attract sun damage is while in your vehicle. I have more sun damage on the left side of my face and neck because of sun exposure driving. So even if you think you are only running some errands you still need to apply a sunscreen to your face and neck. It is a good idea to keep an SPF cream in the vehicle and reapply during the day. Your arms and hands can be one of the first areas to show signs of sun damage as you age. We wash our hands many times a day so reapplying sun protection is key. It makes sense to buy a hand cream with an SPF.

We used to think of an SPF 30 as more than adequate but we now see SPF 50 and 60. I prefer a sun block with zinc and titanium oxide to deflect the sun’s rays.

Even on a cloudy day you need sun protection because UV rays penetrate clouds.

If you are using a retinoid cream you are at increased risk of hyperpigmentation (dark sun damage patches) or sunburn and need to be even more careful to apply and reapply a sun block.

Your head may also need protection. Many men and women experience thinning hair as they age. Even a very short haircut, even if not balding, increases the risk of sun damage on the scalp. There are suncreens that will not leave your head greasy.

We should all make a habit of wearing a hat with a broad brim. In fact it is ideal if you can put one in your vehicle and another, that will not be damaged by being folded up, in your handbag.

Here’s to a happy summer with sun protection and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her by email on call 403-528-8635.

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