The Importance of Sunscreen
More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in people in the U.S. in 2012. In the U.S. more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is caused by exposure to UV rays, more specifically UVB rays. There are two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. They stand for ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. UVA rays are long-wave solar rays that penetrate the skin deeper and are connected to wrinkling and the aging skin. UVB rays are short-wave rays and penetrate the outer layer of your body directly and are the source of sunburns. UVB is also more connected to the cause of skin cancer. Exposure to UVB rays occur as soon as you step foot outside.
To prevent these harmful rays from penetrating your skin you must wear sunscreen or sunblock. There is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen chemical absorbs the UV rays and sunblock physically blocks the rays, but they both protect your skin the same. Sunscreen and sunblock prevent ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun from reaching your skin. Sunscreen has a SPF number on it. SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it is a measure of the ability of the sunscreen to prevent UVB rays from reaching your skin. The higher the SPF number the higher the protection. SPF 15 protects against ninety-three percent of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks out ninety-seven percent of the UVB rays, and SPF 50 prevents up to ninety-eight percent of the UVB rays from penetrating your skin. There is not a sunscreen that can protect against all UV rays, but the majority of them are blocked out. To think, by just taking a few minutes to apply sunscreen you could protect yourself from so many harmful rays.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking for the right sunscreen is that only reading the SPF number is not always the best thing to do. Some sunscreens do not protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunscreens block out both rays but not all do, so taking the time to read the fine print will benefit you.