We wait all year for those elusive summer months, and when they finally roll around the news starts preaching death and destruction. “BEWARE,” they say, “the sun can kill you!” Meanwhile it’s the only time of the year, in Canada especially, that you really want to go outside. So instead of hiding in your house with the blinds closed, or running from shade spot to shade spot, learn how to prevent and restore sun damaged skin.
Well, you really must start with the downside. Dr. Paul Cohen from Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto explains that the occurrence rates of all cancers in Canada are going down. The only exception is melanoma. Melanoma becomes more prominent every year with an increased rate of death. Sounds pretty serious, but it’s largely preventable.
The number one prevention, you won’t be surprised, is sunscreen. Use an SPF of at least 30 to ensure protection from the sun. Cohen says, “Make sure to apply it often, apply it enough and apply in a thick enough layer. People are too reliant on the number of the sunscreen and they’re not paying attention to how they’re using it.” You need to apply an ounce of sunscreen to effectively cover your entire body. You should apply daily and more often when you’re sweating or swimming.
It’s important to limit your time in the sun, especially around mid-day, when the sun is at it’s peak. Wear sun protectant clothing that covers your exposed skin. Always wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. And if you are outside for long periods of time, seek shade.
What to watch for
Whether you’re high-risk for melanoma or not, there are signs you can watch for. Cohen describes the ABCs of melanoma, which are:
· A: Moles that are asymmetric
· B: Moles with an irregular border
· C: Moles with multiple or very dark colours
· D: Moles with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
· E: Mole evolution
Most importantly, talk to your doctor if there is any change in the size, shape or colour of your moles.
What to use
If you already have some skin damage, rest assured, it can be reversible. With the use of lasers and prescription creams you can restore you skin to a healthy state. But the best treatment will always be prevention.
Cohen is a proponent of using a larger number SPF sunscreen whenever you’re outside. Other products, like vitamin C serums should be applied in the morning. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and so the serum prevents free radical damage from UV exposure and helps stabilize blood vessels for people with a red complexion. It further prevents sun damage and helps collagen growth. At night, use a cream that contains retinol or vitamin A to help with skin restoration.
In case you still feel lost, here are some products you should definitely try: