Sorry Sunshine, You’re not a Friend to Our Skin!

man in the beach spraying sunscreenThere are several reasons to choose Sarasota as a place to call home, even if only for part of the year. As a sunny location, Florida, in general, attracts people who love to be outdoors. They love to be on the water or on a beach with a tasty drink in hand. Every day is a good day to be outside, right? In many ways, yes. But as it pertains to our skin, outside is a somewhat dangerous place to be. That is unless we arm ourselves with the sun protection we need. In order to do that, we must first get informed. Here, we discuss how to manage your healthiest skin this coming sunny season and why you want to.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

If you’re in the middle of life or beyond, you might remember television and magazine ads that included characters like the Marlboro Man and the Coppertone Girl. In the case of the latter, the Coppertone Girl was a child with quite the remarkable tan line. In juxtaposition to her pale, pasty skin beneath her bikini bottom, we didn’t see a terrible sunburn. No, we saw golden, bronzed, beautiful skin. Who wouldn’t want that? She did for skin cancer what the Marlboro Man did for lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases. But we can’t blame the Coppertone Girl. She was merely a representation of our own lack of insight during that time in history. It took us quite a few years to really get a grasp on the link between sun exposure and the ravaging effects of the various types of skin cancer. Long after the Coppertone Girl finished up her fifteen minutes of fame, millions of youth hit the beach with a bottle of baby oil and iodine! One might wonder, will we ever learn?

But Have We, Really?

We’d like to think that we know better now so we do better. But with skin cancer statistics still higher than they need to be, considering that skin cancer is preventable, we have to be more curious about how much we really have learned. According to surveys, a great many of us are still making significant mistakes when it comes to protecting ourselves from the damage caused by UV exposure. We may have shifted away from the Coppertone Girl’s SPF 2 sunscreen but we then got ourselves into the whole mess of “sunless tanning” using tanning beds. Now we seem to be making our way toward better habits but we aren’t quite sure exactly how to implement the knowledge we’ve gained. For example:

  • Most people do not apply sunscreen appropriately. Protection comes from about half a teaspoon of sunscreen on the face and a full ounce on the body.
  • Many people look primarily at SPF when choosing sunscreen, failing to look for “broad-spectrum” on the label. Broad-spectrum is a must if you want to avoid skin damage and reduce your skin cancer risk.
  • SPF doesn’t directly extend how long you can be in the sun. You can still burn after an hour if you haven’t applied enough sunscreen or if you sweat or swim and don’t reapply enough product to cover your skin.
  • Many people still don’t wear sunscreen on a daily basis, choosing only to apply product when they’ll be in the sun for several hours (and then only applying it once).

We’re all about the sunshine around here. We call Sarasota home, too! At the same time, our priority is helping ourselves and our patients avoid the unpleasant consequences of sun damage. If you would like to learn more about your skin cancer risk, schedule a skin cancer screening, or explore our treatments to correct the signs of sun damage, contact us at (941) 379-6647.

Posted in: Skin Cancer, Skin Care

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