4 Good Reasons to Wear Sunscreen

Sunny days are ahead. Whether you’re planning to kick back and relax or stay active outside, here are four good reasons to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine. 

Sun Damage Can Happen Quickly  

When the sun is shining, it doesn’t take long — think less than 15 minutes — before ultraviolet (UV) rays can hurt your skinSun damage can happen on days when it’s cloudy or cool, and even on days you don’t go outside. Sitting inside near a window is enough to expose you to harmful rays from the sun 

That’s why it’s important to get into an everyday sunscreen habit, no matter the forecast or what’s on your agenda for the day. The best sunscreen to use is the one you’ll reach for regularly, so try out a few brands to see which one you like. Just make sure it is:

  • Broad spectrum (meaning it protects you from UVA and UVB rays) 
  • SPF 30 or higher 
  • Water-resistant 

And if you’re planning a day in the sun, try to find shade when UV rays are at their strongest, usually from about 10 am to 4 pm. 

Not-So-Sunny Consequences 

Too much unprotected time in the sun can cause short-term issues like sunburn and premature aging or long-term health effects like skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.and some types can be life-threatening 

The more time you spend in the sun, the greater the chance youll develop skin cancer in your lifetime. But you can reduce your risk with an ounce of prevention. To help your sunscreen work properly: 

  1. Put it on 30 minutes before you leave home. 
  2. Use at least a golf-ball sized amount. 
  3. Don’t forget areas like around your ears, the back of your neck, or on the tops of your feet. 
  4. Reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. 
  5. Check the sunscreen expiration date.  

Sunscreen works best when combined with other protective measures, such as putting on a hat and wearing sun-shielding clothing. 

Chemical Free is a Safe Bet 

Whether you have sensitive skin or want to avoid certain chemicals, a natural sunscreen is a safe bet. Non-chemical, or clean, sunscreens use mineral, or physical blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block the sun.  

Zinc and Titanium-based sunblock’s work by being a physical barrier against UV rays, but if you rub it in until it’s no longer white, it will no longer be effective. If you’re concerned about the white-coated appearance, seek out a mineral sunscreen instead.  

Damage Can Build Over Time 

Even if you aren’t sun tanning on purpose, the effects of exposure to the sun can add up over time. It’s important to start protecting yourself and your family early.  

If you have kids, convincing them to wear sunscreen every day can be a challenge. If your little ones don’t love how it feels or smells, work with them to find what kind they like best. The sooner you can make it part of your child’s routine, the easier it will be to make it a habit — and the more protection theyll get over the years. 

The health and wellness benefits of time spent outside are undeniable. It’s worth taking a moment to prepare before you step out of your door.  

Julie Oda, MD, is a hematologist medical oncologist with Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center. Dr. Oda’s philosophy of care is to treat all patients as though they are family and to help them understand every aspect of the care they receive.