We are observing a rise in the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and the age at first diagnosis is decreasing. The number of precancerous lesions is reduced with sun protection into adult years, so it is never too late to take care of your skin and to develop healthier skin care habits.

Photoprotective behavior includes the use of sunscreens in combination with sun avoidance, protective clothing, and hats.

"SPF" stands for "sun protective factor", and only pertains to protection against UVB wavelengths of sunlight. Choose sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light. "Physical blockers" (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are best tolerated, especially for those sensitive to many sunscreens.   Iron/ferrous oxide, which protects against visible light, should also be included in persons with melisma.

The sunscreen bottle should be discarded after one season. Most people apply only 27% of the amount of sunscreen they need, so use it liberally. Remember the "v" of the neck, tops of ears, tops of feet, and bathing suit line. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes prior to outdoor exposure. Avoid direct sun exposure between 10am-4pm.

Sunless tanning agents are felt to be safe. However, they only provide an SPF 3-4, so one still needs to practice other sun protective behaviors.

Ritís "Sun Guard" (www.ritdye.com) is a laundry product that adds additional SPF to clothing. For example, a white t-shirt offers an SPF of 5; Sun Guard boosts the protection level to SPF 30.

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