Keeping your skin safe in the sun

MARQUETTE — It’s beginning to look a bit like spring, and with spring comes sun… eventually. That warm white light that beckons residents outdoors should be enjoyed in tandem with the judicious use of sunscreen.

Sunscreen is a line of defense against the ultraviolet rays that can lead to sunburns, skin aging, and even skin cancer. Using sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15 — 25 or 30 are even better — every day between April and September is recommended. Applying one that covers different types of UV light is also important.

“The ultraviolet B are the wavelengths that cause a sunburn, but ultraviolet A is weaker, but penetrates more,” said Dr. Milton Soderberg, a board–certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. “So it’s important to get protection against ultraviolet A as well. So you’ll find sunscreens that will say they’re broad spectrum, which means they have both ultraviolet A protection and ultraviolet B protection, and that’s what we need.”

The sun can cause burns and the other bad effects even when snow is on the ground or on a cloudy day, so don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen on those days as well. With over 2 million cases of skin cancer in America each year, Dr. Soderberg recommends that people get screened regularly.

“The skin cancers are usually easily treated if they’re small,” Dr. Soderberg added. “So we tell people, ‘have a screening, and if you have something that’s found that’s irregular, then have it taken care of before it becomes a bigger problem and needs a bigger scar to treat it.'”

Some people may have allergic reactions to sunscreen. In such cases, sunscreens containing only Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide can be used to keep the skin safe while enjoying the sun.