We all know we should take sunscreen to the beach, the pool, or the park, but did you know that it is just as important to include sunscreen in your skincare routine even when your plans don’t include going outside?  May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a good time for us to remember to protect ourselves from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun.

You might think you are protected by your window while driving or sitting by a window indoors but think again. Generally, glass windows in your home or car can filter out UVB rays but not UVA sun rays,  which could cause long term damage.  Dermatologists say we should protect ourselves from sunlight if we are by a window for a long period of time – such as driving in a car. A study reported in the New York Times found that 74% of people at a skin cancer clinic had tumors on the driving side of their body, showing a possible link between the amount of time spent driving in the sun and developing skin cancer. There are many daily moisturizers that include sunscreen, so that is an easy way to make sure we are protected before we even leave the house.  

Experts say that If we were to look at sunburned skin under a strong microscope, we would be able to see that the cells and blood vessels have been damaged. With repeated sun damage, the skin starts to look dry, wrinkled, discolored, and leathery.  The best way to avoid damaged skin is by always wearing sunscreen. We should apply it to our skin every day. Make it a habit, as we do with brushing our teeth. 

Also when buying sunscreen focus on the SPF number.  SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF number tells us how well the product will protect us from UVB, the burning rays of the sun.  The higher the SPF number, the greater the amount of protection. Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If we have had skin cancer or precancer, we should use a sunscreen with an even higher SPF. Many of the new sunscreens have SPFs of 45 or higher.  

According to the Cleveland Clinic, not only is sunscreens safe for children over age 6 months, if used regularly in childhood they can prevent skin cancers from developing in later life. Recently, a researcher reported that if sunscreens were used regularly by children through the age of 18, there would be a 72% reduction in the cases of skin cancer later in life.  So remember the best way to stay safe during summer is to wear sunscreen and enjoy the weather.