One common souvenir from spring break trips is a nasty sunburn, but the proper precautions can save your skin from some serious sun damage.
Dr. Edward De Fabo, a skincare professional, said that ultraviolet B rays are they sun’s rays which cause damage – specifically melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer.
UVB rays cause skin to burn and they suppress the immune system. This suppression is what causes melanoma, he said.
De Fabo, who is currently experimenting with melanoma and the genes that cause it, said that when buying sun protection, one thing to keep in mind is that there is little difference between sunscreen and sun block.
Sunscreen is never 100 percent effective, he said, but as long as the SPF number is above 30, it will be about 90 percent effective.
Many believe that the higher the SPF number, the greater the protection. De Fabo said that while that is true, an SPF of 50 is only about 3 percent more effective than SPF 30.
One good way to be safe is to reapply sun block at least every two hours. Make sure to apply two milligrams for every square centimeter of skin, De Fabo said. Wearing a hat and some shades is also a good way to give you some protection from the sun’s intense rays.
De Fabo said that UVB rays could cause damage even on cloudy days, so sunscreen is essential – no matter where you are spending your spring break this year.
The heat that radiates from the sun is caused by infrared rays, he said – not UVB rays – so even when the temperatures are low sun damage is a possibility. In other words, just because your skin does not feel like it is burning does not mean that it is not.
Remembering to reapply your sunscreen after water activities is also essential to saving your skin.
De Fabo said, “People don’t realize that sunscreen comes off with sweat or when they swim.”
This article appeared in the January 28, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.