Submitted by Doug Leone, MD and Adrienne Schupbach, MD, Dermatology and Mohs Surgery Institute
Two facts are indisputable: sun exposure causes skin cancer, and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen will help prevent skin cancer as well as prevent premature signs of aging. So, why do only a small percentage of Americans wear sunscreen on a daily basis? According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), fewer than 15 percent of men and fewer than 30 percent of women reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than one hour. It’s not due to lack of knowledge. Several studies have shown that most people are well aware of the harmful effects of sun exposure and well aware of the benefits of using sunscreen. So, why isn’t everyone using sunscreen?
Let’s list some of the reasons. Maybe you’ll see your “reason” and realize it’s really just an “excuse.”
Cancer won’t happen to me. It’s common to feel that bad things only happen to other people. Teens and young adults are especially prone to feeling invincible and ignoring advice about what might happen when they get older. The reality is that skin cancer is the most common cancer, affecting one in five Americans each year. Basal cell and squamous cell are the most common forms, and while rarely causing death, they can be very disfiguring. Melanoma is the deadliest type, accounting for an estimated 10,130 deaths in 2016.
Sunscreen is too messy. Sunscreen can sometimes be a bit annoying or inconvenient to apply, but that’s still no reason to not do it. If you can’t figure out how to apply it without getting handfuls of lotion on your clothes or having it spill all over your bag, then the solution is a sunscreen stick that you just rub on. You might like a spray formula.
Sunscreen stings my eyes when I exercise or sweat. Look for a product labeled “water-resistant” and made specifically for the face. Do not apply it super close to the eye area and allow enough time for it to be absorbed. Sunscreen made for young children can be good as it won’t sting if it should get in your eyes.
I just want “a little color” or a “base tan.” There is no such thing as a safe tan. Any “color” to the skin is a sign of skin damage — not protection from future sun exposure. If you don’t want to have white legs all summer, there are many sunless tanning lotions and bronzers that give excellent results.
Sunscreen will make it hard to get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important nutrient, and exposure to the sun is needed for the body to produce Vitamin D. Being outside for as little as 10 minutes a day is adequate for most people. You can also get Vitamin D from foods and supplements. If you are concerned about your Vitamin D level, talk to your health-
Sunscreen is too expensive. While there are some pricey brands on the market, there are plenty that are very inexpensive. Furthermore, there is no correlation between quality and price. In fact, one of the highest-rated sunscreens by Consumer Reports is the “No-AD” brand that is only $10.00 for a 16 oz bottle. In addition to using sunscreen, protect your skin from sun exposure by wearing a wide brim hat, sunglasses, UV protective clothing, and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day when possible.
Everyone knows the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. If you aren’t using it, what’s your excuse? While it may be slightly inconvenient, and you may need to experiment with several different brands to find one that you like, when the sun sets at the end of the day, you’ll have given yourself, and your family, many more days to enjoy the sunshine.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Dermatology and Mohs Surgery Institute at 309-451-DERM(3376)
or visit www.dermatologistbloomington.com. Dr. Leone and Dr. Schupbach are board-certified dermatologists, specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology, including the treatment of skin cancer, moles, acne, rashes, warts, and all skin disorders. Dr. Leone is one of the few Mohs-trained surgeons in the area. Their practice is located at 3024 E. Empire St., 2nd floor, in the Advocate BroMenn Outpatient Center.
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