Summer is fast approaching, so do you know what that means?
Trips to the beach, playing in the parks, setting up your garden, and other exciting events outside!
With being outside comes sun exposure.
The sun is the biggest proponent of premature aging as well as the leading cause of melanoma.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocytes, the skin’s pigment cells. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin but more commonly develops in an existing or new mole. The mole may change over time.
When skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds, it causes skin damage that triggers the melanocytes to produce more melanin.
There are two types of melanin:
Eumelanin and Pheomelanin
Only eumelanin pigment attempts to protect the skin by causing the skin to darken or tan; pheomelanin does not.
Naturally, darker skin tones contain more eumelanin. Therefore, they are at a lower risk for melanoma, while fairer skin tones contain more pheomelanin which causes them to be more susceptible to sun damage, burns, and skin cancers.
Melanoma occurs when DNA damage from sunburns or tanning due to UV radiation triggers a change (mutations) in the melanocytes, resulting in uncontrolled cellular growth.
According to the World Health Organization, UV light from the sun or tanning beds is the leading cause of 85% of melanomas in Canada.
How can I protect myself?
We know that most of this disease is preventable.
One way to protect yourself is to do an annual skin check. This can easily be done outside of a doctor’s office with the aid of mirrors and maybe a partner.
All you need to do is look at every inch of your skin and note any mole or freckle you may have. Keep a note of the size, colour and shape. Once the year passes, retake a look and notice any new changes.
We have an easy-to-read detailed chart on what to look for.
Do you happen to have any new changes? Check in with your Primary Care Provider, and they can send you for further testing.
Daily sunscreen wear is the second, easiest and most important way to prevent sun damage.
Sunscreen is widely available, affordable, and has various textures to suit everyone’s needs and uses. From powder to spray, to lotion, to stick, there are many forms that sunscreen can come in.
To this day, there is still some confusion regarding sunscreen.
Some people consider the SPF rating a time rating of sunscreen protection. While this concept is technically rooted in the FDA-approved SPF testing process, it’s not entirely true.
All sunscreen products require reapplication, and each label provides instructions on the frequency of reapplication.
A general rule of thumb is reapplication every 2 hours, 15 minutes before any sun exposure and reapplication anytime you come out of the water or are sweating profusely outside.
It is also essential to read the bottle. For example, some sunscreens only filter out Ultraviolet Burning (UVB) rays and don’t filter out Ultraviolet Aging (UVA) Rays. Another term you may see is “Broad Spectrum Protection.” This means the sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection.
Chemical vs Physical
Physical sunscreens, also known as Mineral sunscreens, work by creating a physical shield around the skin barrier and provide broad spectrum protection by reflecting the UV rays. Physical sunscreen can also help block UVA rays that come through windows.
Two main ingredients found in physical sunscreens are:
Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide
Chemical sunscreens don’t lie on the skin but instead are absorbed by the skin and act like a filter. They contain active ingredients that absorb the UV rays before the skin can absorb them.
Common ingredients found in chemical sunscreens are:
Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Homosalate, and Octinoxate
Consistency is vital when it comes to sun protection, as wearing sunscreen is your most effective defence against sun damage and skin cancer prevention.
To help you navigate through the confusing world of sunscreens, our skin specialists offer complimentary consultations to help you understand your skin.
May is also Melanoma and Skin Cancer awareness month, so to help protect your skin, you can save 25% off any sun protection product to help shield your skin from the summer sun!
Keep informed and check out our Monthly Specials to ensure you never miss out!
Canada, Public Health Agency of. “Government of Canada.” Canada.Ca, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 9 Dec. 2019, www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer.html.
Halpern, Allan, et al. “Melanoma.” The Skin Cancer Foundation, 13 Apr. 2023, www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/.
Kuritzky, L. Alexandra, and Jennifer Beecker . “Five Things to Know about Sunscreen.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, 22 Sept. 2015.
Melanoma Canada. Melanoma What You Need to Know 6th Edition.
Timmons, Jessica. “Should You Use Physical or Chemical Sunscreen?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 Feb. 2022, www.healthline.com/health/physical-vs-chemical-sunscreen. Accessed 15 May 2023.
WINNINGTON, PAUL. “A Closer Look at Sunscreens: Insights, Innovations, and Inaccuracies.” Practical Dermatology, Apr. 2018.