Sunscreen use: how to protect yourself this summer

Watch the video above: It’s time for sunscreen but are we using the products correctly?

SASKATOON – As the temperature rises so does the risk associated with sun exposure. According to the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer but also one of the most preventable.

So how can you go about safely soak up the sun this summer? Experts say it starts with slapping on some sunscreen.

“I am still of the opinion that you should put sunscreen on whenever your heading outside, even on a cloudy day, there’s still exposure to UV [ultraviolet] rays so you’re always at risk for sun damage,” said pharmacist Kelly Kizlyk.

While sunscreen maybe your best defence against the sun, it will only provide protection if you’re using it properly.

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“I put it on right before we go outside or as when we’re already outside,” said Ashley Haugen, as she entered a local outdoor swimming pool with her infant daughter.

Experts say it’s the most common mistake people make.

“Not applying it soon enough before going outside,” said Karoline Mallow, who was ready for a swim with her family.

Experts say if you are planning on going outside, you need to slather on the sunscreen and don’t forget the top of your forehead, neck, ears and the top of your feet.

“Always make sure you put it on well in advance of going outside so not right before you’re exposed to the sun but about 20-30 minutes before you head outside,” said Kizlyk.

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or every time you’re in and out of the water. You’ll want to make sure you’re also selecting the right sunscreen.

“The recommendations is between 15 and 60, it’s important to remember that SPF only protects against UVB rays and there’s also something called UVA rays which have been linked to skin cancer, so the other thing you’ll want to look for is a broad spectrum sunscreen, as long as it has those words, board spectrum you’ll be protected from both,” explained Kizlyk.

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You may also want to avoid using a spray sunscreen on any child too young to close their eyes or mouth to protect themselves from the spray. Although, Kizlyk points out, you can spray it into your hands and apply it to the child’s face.

Also key, say experts, to going out into the sun safely is using enough sunscreen .

Despite increased awareness of the dangers of sun exposure, in 2014 it’s estimated 6,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma.

“We have about 120-140 cases, new cases per year of melanoma in the province but the non-melanoma skin cancers is about 3,000 cases per year.” said Dr. Jon Tonita, vice-president of population health, quality and research division with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

Of the approximately 120 new cases of melanoma in the Saskatchewan, 30 people will die from it.

Those who have had severe sunburns at younger ages can also be more prone to skin cancer as well as anyone with freckles and fair skin.

“Sun safety is for everyone, regardless of how old you are or what you may have done in the past you definitely want to be applying sunscreens today,” said Kizlyk.

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Additional protection includes wearing a hat and long-sleeved clothing.

According to St. John Ambulance, in the event of a minor sunburn, the first aid is as follows:

  • 1. Check the individual thoroughly to determine the extent and severity of the burn. Get them out of the sun immediately.
  • 2. Cover the burn with a wet towel or gently sponge the area with cool water to relieve pain.
  • 3. Pat the skin dry and apply medicated sunburn ointment or lotion. Apply according to directions on the package and watch for warning signs of an allergic reaction.
  • 4. Protect burnt areas from further exposure to the sun.
  • 5. Don’t break any blisters – doing so may promote infection. If large areas of the skin begin to blister, seek medical help.
  • 6. If the individual begins to vomit or develops a fever this signifies the onset of heatstroke. Try and lower the individual’s body temperature and seek medical help.

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