Protecting Yourself from the Sun

With the UV index expected to be at 8 or higher across Metro Vancouver this week thanks to sunshine and temperatures reaching 26 degrees Celsius, it is important that you take precautions to protect yourself from harmful UV rays that are emitted by the sun.

The sun can be strong enough to cause skin cancer, and the rates are only increasing. Thus, it is important that you look after yourself and your skin when you are exposed to UVA and UVB rays. While less intense than UVB rays, UVA rays are as much as 50 times more prevalent and play a significant role of the aging and wrinkling of our skin, and may even inaugurate the development of skin cancer. UVA rays are primarily emitted by tanning booths, and can cause quite a bit of damage over time. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and also play a significant role in the development of skin cancer. The intensity of UVB rays is dependent on the location in which you live, the season, and the time of day; however, UVB rays are typically at their highest between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, and from the months of April until October. That being said, UVB rays can still cause damage to your skin year-round, and it is important that you keep your skin protected year-round as well, and not just during spring and summer months.

In order to keep your skin protected, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary along with the Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Dermatology Association recommend wearing sunscreen.

Ali Ghahary - SPF 15

You should always choose a sunblock that has an SPF of 15 or more, and should look for broad-spectrum types. Labels of broad-spectrum sunblock may often include the phrases “multi spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.” You should ensure you apply sunblock at least 1 hour before going outdoors. When outside, it is also important to seek shade whenever possible – especially during peak hours of UVB rays (10 AM – 4 PM, as mentioned earlier.) Wearing loose clothing also helps to provide a barrier between the sun and the skin, decreasing your risk of sunburn or further damage. To avoid UVA and UVB damage, you should also wear a hat and sunglasses, and avoid going into tanning booths.

To make sure your skin remains healthy, it is important to see your physician every year for a thorough examination.