VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you’re going to be outside today, make sure you’re protected. With today’s UV Index at 8, or very high, dermatologist Harvey Lui with BC Cancer says it’s extremely important to avoid being in the direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
You can try to stay in the shade, but Lui notes it’s not fool proof. “You can get reflected light — light reflected off of buildings, sand… even concrete. On a bright day like today, there’s lots of UV. Even though it might not hit you directly from the top, it might come from the side or the ground.”
He adds the more sunburns you get, the higher your risk of skin cancer. “In fact, there was one study that showed if you get one really bad sunburn in your life, you’ve almost doubled your chance of getting skin cancer.”
Lui says skin cancer is very treatable, if caught early.
“If you detect it early and go see your doctor and get it treated, it’s curable. If you’re developing a new spot on your skin or there’s a spot on your skin that’s changing or you get a sore on your skin that’s not healing within two or three weeks, that’s probably the time to go get the spot checked by your doctor.”
You can also help protect yourself by wearing a hat — but not just any hat.
“The brim of your hat should be the width of your hand,” says Lui. “Although baseball caps are kind of cool and people like wearing them, they don’t really provide enough coverage for your ears and the sides of your face. So, if you can get a hat that goes all the way around, so much the better.”
He also suggests wearing long pants and long-sleeved clothing — if you are willing to do so.
“But I know lots of people like to wear shorts and t-shirts when the weather is so nice,” he admits. “So, if that’s the way you’d like to be outside, then the next thing to do is put on sunscreen.”
You’re advised to choose a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and Lui says you should put it everywhere the light shines on your skin. “That includes behind the ears and on your neck. Any part that’s going to be exposed to the sun, that’s where we want to see the sunscreen.”
You need to be especially careful with your little ones.
“The important thing is if you’ve got a baby, keep your baby in the shade. It’s really not appropriate to have your baby being exposed to direct sunlight… Once your kid is old enough to start walking around, then it’s important to use the sunscreen.”
Here’s another incentive to protect your skin from the UV rays:
“When you get too much UV on your skin, that’s what makes you look old!” says Lui. “So, if you want to stay looking younger for a longer period of time, stay out of the sun. The sun is the number one factor that makes the skin wrinkled, pigmented, spider-veined — all these things that people consider to be the signs of aging.”