The jury is in and regardless of what you might have heard or think, sunscreen is a necessity. Cases of cancer are on the rise each year and dermatologists and other medical providers are begging people to slather on sunscreen to protect themselves against harmful damage from the sun. From skin cancer to painful burns and accelerated aging of skin, sunscreen can help you prevent all of these by simply adding to your skin regimen each and every day. Before you listen to the argument that sunscreen is full of chemicals or not good for you, do your own research, talk to your own dermatologist, or just keep reading. Sunscreen is the new everyday necessity!

There is countless evidence to support sunscreen as a preventative measure against skin cancer, but even with increased awareness melanoma is on the rise.  Melanoma International Foundation (MIF), shares that over 1,000,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, outnumbering the total number of other cancers combined. The Aim at Melanoma Foundation shares, “Vermont has the nation’s second-highest per-capita rate of new melanoma cases. According to the most recent data available, its residents have a significantly higher rate of melanoma (33.1 per 100,000) compared to the U.S. rate (21.3 per 100,000).” From sunshine on the slopes to sunshine on the sand, Vermonter’s need to practice better safe sun while they have fun!

Vermonter’s and visiting readers: it’s time to slather on the sunscreen! For the best protection choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection that makes a protective barrier over the skin and deflects and absorbs harmful UV rays. Look at the SPF indicator and choose a 30 SPF or higher because SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% of UV rays. It’s important to note that no sunscreen protects you completely. If you plan to be sweating or playing in the water check for sweat and water-resistant options. They are not “sweatproof” or “waterproof” but they will help you out as long as the label specifies (about 40-80 minutes).

Got your sunscreen on and heading out the door? Don’t leave the bottle at home! No sunscreen will last all day. Some will last up to two hours (that’s shorter than the average baseball game) so don’t think you are free and clear with just a dab before you go! Reapply as needed or at least every two hours, and even more if you are swimming and sweating. Nowadays you can find sunscreen in all sizes from pocket sized packets to big bottles for your bag. There’s no reason to let being on the run be an excuse for unsafe sun.

There are other measures to add to your safe sun routine that are super simple. Wearing a hat helps protect your scalp and gives your face extra protection. Grab a large brim hat for the beach and always keep them on your kids to protect their little faces. Throw on a shirt! Tans will fade and good health is always in so wear a shirt or “rash guard” for extra protection at the beach. Shade is a cooler way to get less sun on your skin too. Sunglasses are important for all ages to protect our eyes from UV rays. Make sure your sunglasses have UV protection. As the American Cancer Society would say, “Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.” Slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on sunglasses.

Sunscreen is a great tool to arm yourself with against the sun. Make sure to put it everywhere, including behind the ears and on the toes to get the best coverage possible. Yes, sunscreen means carrying around one more thing, maybe feeling a little sticky and smelling like the beach, but isn’t that a million times better than skin cancer? Agreed. While we’re at it, make sure to ask your provider to check your skin at your yearly wellness visits and give them a call if you see anything that looks different, or makes you nervous. There are many more dermatology resources to keep us all in check!

We all want Vermont to be known for its amazing lakes, beautiful mountains, and amber flowing maple syrup, but chances are we don’t want our state known for not taking the proper precautions to protect ourselves from harmful rays. Let’s make our communities healthier by committing to making sunscreen part of our routine, not just this summer but all year long! On the beach or on the trails, walking the dog or fishing for dinner, it’s time we all practice safe summer sun!


Mary Hoadley

Director Of The Wellness Center