Skin cancer is primarily caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Top dermatologist Dr Jinah Yoo reveals how to look after your skin to help prevent the deadly disease.
“UVB can cause sunburn and skin cancer, whereas UVA is associated with skin ageing and skin cancer,” Dr Yoo began.
“UVA has longer wavelengths than UVB, therefore UVA can penetrate through window glasses and deeper to the skin.”
So what’s the best way to protect your skin? “My advice is to apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or above,” stated Dr Yoo.
The skin doctor is adamant that sunscreen should have a “UVA star rating of four or five stars”, and it’s best applied “after moisturiser every morning”.
SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it “refers to the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen offers compared to unprotected skin”.
Do you find that you burn easily, suffer from prickly heat (an itchy rash that stings) or suffer from rosacea?
Dr Yoo advised: “Mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which are very gentle ingredients, are suitable for sensitive skin.”
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Loving your bronzed glow? “The dark pigment produced in the skin, called melanin, increases in response to sun exposure,” explained Dr Yoo.
She continued: “This is in an attempt to absorb UV and protect the skin. Increased production of melanin subsequently can mean skin becomes tanned.
“However, in lighter skin types, there is a smaller amount of melanin, meaning that the skin tends to react to UV rather than protecting against it.
“This means that lighter skin type tends to burn rather than tan.”
Looking more like a lobster than golden sand? “To reduce the pain and soothe the skin, you can cool down your skin with frequent cool showers,” suggested Yoo.
She added: “Or use moisturisers containing aloe vera or soy.” If the skin is blistering, “you’ll need to leave them to heal by themselves”.
Take note, long-term sun damage can lead to “rough patches” called actinic keratosis – “these are considered as precursors of skin cancer”.
Dr Yoo stressed: “You need to see your GP, or a dermatologist, to be treated with prescription cream.”
The lesion may need “scraping off under local anaesthetic injection, depending on the area, size and extent of the sun-damages”.
Early signs of skin damage include “dry, flaky and itchy” skin that may be confused with other skin conditions.
“Also, [the skin] can appear dull with uneven pigmentation,” Dr Yoo commented.
And be wary of “long-lasting” sunscreen or “once-a-day applications” – Dr Yoo recognised that “the majority of us don’t apply adequate amount of sunscreen”.
Sunscreen can “accidentally be removed by rubbing or sweating throughout the day”.
“Therefore, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours,” said Dr Yoo.
What about the use of tanning oils? “There is no such thing as a truly safe tan other than a fake tan,” verified Dr Yoo.
And she added you must protect your head by wearing a “broad-brim hat” to “help block direct sun exposure”.