Your skin is one of the first thing other people notice about you. Our skin sends a message to others about our age (e.g. wrinkles, smooth baby skin), health (e.g. autoimmune disease, infection), the way we take care of ourselves (e.g. dirty, clean), our values (e.g. piercings, tattoos, cosmetic changes), and our lifestyle (e.g. makeup, natural/no-makeup, sunburn). With so much communication about ourselves happening just by the way our skin presents itself, it makes sense that skin problems are a significant source of anxiety, depression, and stress (Dalgard et al., 2015). This distress can be worse if we are dealing with skin diseases that may have uncomfortable, painful, or deadly symptoms.
Why You (and I) Should Wear Sunscreen
Skin Cancer Prevention
Two to 3 million people will get skin cancer this year (World Health Organization, 2016). Next year, another 2-3 million people will get it. The next year, another 2-3 million, and so forth. With such numbers, one of these years, you may have a significant chance of being yet another person with skin cancer. Skin cancer, in most cases, is treatable, but it can also require painful procedures. If the cancer spreads, it may require chemotherapy or radiation and can cause death. The irony is that many of us are willing to spend months or years worth of income on treatment for skin cancer to protect our lives, even if they require months or years to complete, but we don’t put so much effort and resources into preventing the problem. In this case, the prevention is easy, affordable, and widely accessible: it’s just sunscreen (Sandhu et al., 2016).
Prevent and Reverse Aging of Skin
Likewise, many of us will spend hours and thousands of dollars attempting to reverse aging through facials, plastic surgery, dermatology procedures, and “miracle” creams or serums, but few of us devote such money and effort to preventing these problems with a highly effective intervention: sunscreen! Skin photodamage and signs of aging (such as wrinles and dark spots) caused by ultraviolet radiation (UVR), including UVA and UVB light, can be prevented and even reversed in as little as 12 weeks through the use of a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 sunscreen (Randhawa et al., 2016).
Start the Habit: Wear Sunscreen Every Day
Every day (even in winter), put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 that protects against UVA and UVB.
Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being
Dalgard, F. J., Gieler, U., Tomas-Aragones, L., Lien, L., Poot, F., Jemec, G. B. E., … Kupfer, J. (2015). The psychological burden of skin diseases: A cross-sectional multicenter study among dermatological out-patients in 13 european countries. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 135(4), 984–991. https://doi.org/10.1038/jid.2014.530
Randhawa, M., Wang, S., Leyden, J. J., Cula, G. O., Pagnoni, A., & Southall, M. D. (2016). Daily use of a facial broad spectrum sunscreen over one-year significantly improves clinical evaluation of photoaging. Dermatologic Surgery, 42(12), 1354–1361. https://doi.org/10.1097/DSS.0000000000000879
Sandhu, P. K., Elder, R., Patel, M., Saraiya, M., Holman, D. M., Perna, F., … Glanz, K. (2016). Community-wide interventions to prevent skin cancer. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51(4), 531–539. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.03.020
World Health Organization WHO. (2016). Skin cancers. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.who.int/uv/faq/skincancer/en/