Overexposure to the sun causes an array of health problems, including skin cancer. Ronny Muñoz, Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has issued preventative measures to stem the rapid rise in cases of sun damage.
1. Avoid overexposure. Avoid unprotected sun exposure between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The more damage the sun does to your skin, the greater the chance of getting skin cancer. Be aware that the effect is cumulative.
2. Wear approporate clothing. Among the most basic measures of self-protection is wearing the right clothes and trying to cover areas such as arms or neck. The best fabrics are coarse weaved cottons, which do not allow light to pass through or those that block ultraviolet rays, such as those used by athletes.
3. Watch your colors. The color of clothes can also make a big difference. Dark colored items, which we traditionally rule out on those sunny days precisely because they attract heat, are the ones that offer the greatest protection. Black, blue or brown items worn over light or white tones are all effective. However, if clothes are wet they lose their protective capacity.
4. Use a hat. Since sunlight exposure concentrates on the upper body area, this is where cancer most frequently occurs: face, ears, neck, shoulders or chest (in women). Especially sensitive are those with an exposed scalp. For example, a bald head has a higher incidence of skin cancer because of constant exposed skin. For them, a hat is not an option: they should always wear one.
5. Use sunscreen or UVA and UVB protection. Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen and sunglasses, to protect against UVA and UVB radiation as both cause accumulative damage. The first is related more to cancer, but the second is directly linked to premature aging of the skin and surface damage. "Sunblocks," in practice, no longer exist, because nothing is 100 percent effective. All creams, suntan lotions, oils and sprays have some degree of filter. The recommendation is to use a 30 SPF, in the case of an adult, because it protects skin by up to 97 percent.
6. Opt for makeup with SPF. Although you can find makeup that contains sunscreen on the market, the recommendation for women is to always combine it with 30 SPF or more. After applying your makeup as usual, sun protection should be applied to the face.
7. Know the side effects of your medicines. There are medicines that increase skin sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. For example, the most common are diuretics, antidiabetics and some antibiotic tetracycline derivatives. In the latter case, this component produces a molecule that reacts with the sun, increasing damage from ultraviolet light to skin cells.
8. Don't tan. The expert verdict is clear: Tanning is always harmful for skin, especially in people of lighter skin. The use of tanning beds, which is essentially submitting yourself to more UV radiation artificially, is also very dangerous. They should be avoided at all costs.