Summer is here and it’s time for fun in the sun! Is there anything better than hitting the beach, rolling out your towel and spending the entire day swimming, playing volleyball or beach bats and hanging with friends and family? Just think about all that lovely Vitamin D you’re producing!
The flipside of the coin is, of course, that you have to take care of your skin while you’re out there. Southern Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia. The three most common types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented by respecting the sun.
Here’s our quick and concise guide to choosing and applying sunscreen to prevent sun damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer:
The term ‘broad spectrum’ means that the sunscreen should protect your skin from both UVA (which causes aging) and UVB (which causes burning).
The Southern African sun is brutal. Choose an SPF of at least 30 to ensure that you and your family get the best coverage possible. 50+ is recommended for children and infants. Please note: Infants should under no circumstances be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. Cover your stroller and baby seat with a UV-proof cover when you’re out and about.
Choose a water-resistant sunscreen
African summers are hot, and we’re in and out of the water a lot. Choose a sunscreen that states ‘water-resistant’ on the bottle. You’ll still need to reapply after every swim and towelling session, but you’ll be protected while you’re in the water.
One mistake a lot of people make is to think that they only need to apply sunscreen once when they’re spending the entire day outdoors. In fact, you need to reapply quite often to ensure that your skin remains protected against harmful UV rays. A good rule of thumb regarding volume, is to use the equivalent of a shot glass full to cover all the exposed parts of your body.
As for the frequency of reapplication, that will depend on the activities you’re engaged in on any given day. If you’re sitting underneath an umbrella and perspiring at a normal rate, you should reapply every two hours (your skin is not only vulnerable to direct UV rays, but also to those that are reflected off of sand, paving stones and water). However, this should be bumped up to once an hour if you’re playing a vigorous sport. Also reapply after every swim.
DID YOU KNOW: There are now a variety of non-greasy, sprayable sunscreens available on the market that make application a breeze. Look for it at your chemist and give it a go!
There you have it – a quick guide to choosing and applying sunscreen that will keep you and your family out of harm’s way this summer. If you’re still unsure as to which brand or type of sunscreen would be best for your needs, a consultation with a dermatologist or skin therapist could help you to determine what your best options would be. While you’re there, have a chat about mole mapping! It’s another effective way to reduce your risk of skin cancer.