Whether you're a sports fan or a seasoned athlete, you're likely forgetting something to keep yourself 100% on game day.
While you've gone to great lengths to be there for your team, you must also remember to take care of yourself by wearing something to protect your skin from the suns blazing rays.
Yes, sports fans. We're talking to you about sunscreen.
Before you jump out to cheer on or play for your team on a beautiful sun-shiny day, take a moment to think about protecting your skin. Elizabeth Clements, PharmD, BCACP, clinical pharmacist at AdventHealth Celebration, explains why you should wear sunscreen and offers her expert tips to keep your skin 100 percent.
Why You Should Wear Sunscreen
Skin cancer is the most prevalent [most common] cancer diagnosed in the U.S., yet its often overlooked, explains Dr. Clements. She adds that melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is responsible for the most skin cancer-related deaths. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. adolescents and young adults, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That said, many skin cancers can be prevented with proper use of sunscreen and other protective measures. Protecting your skin is especially important starting from age six months and throughout your entire life since the damage to your skins cells caused by the suns ultraviolet (UV) rays accumulates and increases skin cancer risk years into the future.
How Sunscreen Works
Sunscreen provides a protective layer on the outer layers of your skin, serving as a barrier between your skin and radiation from the suns UV rays. The ingredients in a broad-spectrum sunscreen target both the suns UVA and UVB rays, which have been proven to damage the skin, cause premature aging and increase skin cancer risk.
UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer, while UVA rays are known to cause light-induced effects of aging, such as wrinkles and leathering of the skin. UVA rays can also increase the cancer-causing effects of UVB rays. That's why it is important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on any part of your skin exposed to the sun to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays, Dr. Clements explains.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
Dr. Clements further advises that your sunscreen should be four key things:
- Broad spectrum (covering UVA and UVB rays)
- SPF of at least 30
- Water resistant
- Approved with the gold seal from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
She notes that sunscreen in the aerosol spray cans are not FDA approved for safety and effectiveness. For this reason, they should be used with caution.
When You Should Wear Sunscreen
Sunscreen should be worn any time you are outside, Dr. Clements notes. It's safe to say that if any part of your skin will be exposed to sun it should be protected with sunscreen.
How You Should Wear Sunscreen
The amount of sunscreen that you'll need depends on how much of your skin will be exposed to the sun, notes Dr. Clements. If you are planning for a day at the beach, you'll need to cover your whole body with at least the recommended ounce of lotion-based sunscreen. If you're going to an outdoor sports game, you'll likely have more sun protection with clothes, so you'll need less.
She offers some other critical sunscreen-wearing tips:
- Put sunscreen on at least 15 to 30 minutes before you go out in the sun to allow it to absorb into your skin.
- No matter what the SPF, reapply every two hours or immediately after being in the water (even if water resistant).
- Make sure that any prescription or over the counter medications that you are taking does not have sun-sensitive side effects.
- Since no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays, use additional sun protection such as SPF clothing, hats, sunglasses and seek shade where possible.
- Check your expiration dates - most sunscreens should be used within a few months. Buy new sunscreen at the start of the sun and sports seasons and write the purchase date on your bottles with a marker so you can keep track of their shelf life.
- If you have trouble keeping track of how often to reapply sunscreen, there are products like sun burn alert stickers or wrist bands that change colors to indicate when its time to reapply. There are even apps to send reapplication reminders use whatever tools you need to help you protect your skin.
The next time you are getting your bag packed for a day on the field or in the arena, don't forget to make a critical play: wear your sunscreen.
It is very important to protect your skin from the sun, especially as a young adult start thinking about your future now to maintain healthy skin and prevent skin cancer by building sunscreen into your daily routine, Dr. Clements concludes.