There’s more to sun protection and skin cancer prevention than sunscreen. A multi-layered approach is best when it comes to protecting yourself from harmful and skin cancer-causing UV rays. Here are the different types of gear that help protect against skin cancer:
Sun Protective Clothing
The right type of clothing is one of the best forms of sun protection. However, for clothing to provide adequate protection from UV light, it needs to meet a certain Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a UPF of at least 30. However, UPF 50+ rates are considered excellent at ensuring UV radiation doesn’t penetrate to your skin.
Beyond the UPF rates, you should also pay attention to the clothing’s color, construction, fabric composition, coverage, and fit. Dark-colored fabric is better at protection because it absorbs the UV rays rather than allowing them to reach your skin. Coverage is crucial; the more skin the clothing covers, the more protection. Therefore, long-sleeved shirts and pants are best.
Some of the best fabrics for blocking harmful UV sun rays include cotton, canvas, linen, wool, polyester, and denim. However, the construction of these fabrics also plays a role. The denser and more tightly woven the fabrics are, the better they are at blocking UV radiation. Some materials, like unbleached cotton, absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin, while shiny fabrics reflect radiation away from you.
It’s also best if the clothing doesn’t fit too tightly around your body. Tight-fitting clothes stretch the fabric making it more transparent and allowing UV light to penetrate.
Your most sensitive skin is found on your scalp, face, ears, and neck. Unfortunately, these areas are the most exposed to UV radiation and are prone to skin cancers like basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
Wide brim hats offer the best sun protection because they provide shade for your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Ensure the wide-brim hat is made of tightly-woven material, preventing UV rays from seeping through.
The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest and most sensitive in the body, making it more susceptible to sun damage. It may surprise you that carcinoma and melanoma can occur on the eyelids. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays also can increase your risk of cataracts. When purchasing sunglasses, remember that not all sunglasses are sun-safe and offer protection. Make sure to choose shades that are labeled to provide 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB.
Sunscreen will always play a crucial role in skin cancer prevention. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both UVA and UVB radiation. Experts advise using sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 when you are outdoors. Along with the right gear and sunscreen, you also should be mindful of good sun protection practices, such as avoiding direct exposure when the sun is most intense and reapplying sunscreen regularly.
To learn more about skin cancer screening, prevention, and treatment, contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology. At Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology, more than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.