Summer Exercise Safety Part 2: Your epidermis is showing! Protect your skin

As a child, it was a lot of fun to tell my friends that their epidermis was showing. For those who did not know that I was referring to their skin, it was always a great laugh. These days my friends don’t fall for it as often, but I still chuckle when I say it. However, the fact that your skin is often exposed, especially during these summer months, makes protection of your skin very important.

Over exposure of the skin to the sun can lead to skin cancer. For this reason, if you are planning on going out in the sun, it is imperative to protect your skin. There are too many sun block products out there to know or try all of them; so which one is right for you?

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) levels can be confusing. SPF refers to the length your skin can tolerate sun exposure over your own unprotected skin: the higher the number the more effective. Using protection rated at least SPF 30 is recommended by the dermatology society. An SPF of thirty gives your skin thirty times longer protection than no skin protection. However, this does not take into account the water or sweat factor. Since your skin protection will come off with time, water or sweat, you still need to reapply at least every two hours, or more often with continuous swimming or sweating, in order to maintain your protection. Therefore even a high SPF stops working when it has been washed or sweated off. Also, there seems to be consensus that an SPF over 50 probably does not offer a significant benefit over SPF 50; so if it costs more, it is likely not worth the extra money to go above SPF 50.

In general you want to find sunscreen with good ratings against UVA and UVB, two spectra of ultraviolet light that can damage skin and lead to skin cancer. Ultraviolet rays also cause wrinkling, sunburn and cause aging of the skin. Don’t be stingy. If you don’t put enough the screen will not work.

Companies, such as consumer reports and the skin cancer foundation, are a great resource in finding the more effective skin protection. They review sunscreen products and can offer a wealth of information to protect your skin from damaging rays. A sunburn today can be skin cancer later in life. Rub, spray or roll it on. It could save your life.