Why to use sunscreen woman applying sunscreen

Warmer weather is here and everyone is ready to get back outside and enjoy the season. Although it is recommended to use a daily sunscreen throughout the year, now is the time of year to remember to apply additional sunscreen when you go outside for prolonged periods of time.

Forgetting sunscreen can increase your chance of getting skin cancer and encourage premature aging of your skin.

Skin cancer makes up one half of all new cancers per year with over one million new cases being diagnosed every year.

The American Academy of Dermatology refers to skin cancer in the U.S. as an unrecognized epidemic.

Experts say sunscreen is important because it provides protection against skin cancer by blocking UVB radiation.

“UVB radiation is responsible for causing damage to the cell’s DNA,” says Eric Dobratz, MD, Director of Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. “This can result in mutations in the cells, which in turn can result in cancerous growth of the cells.”

Sunscreen helps to form a protective layer on the skin that reflects and absorbs the UV radiation before it can enter the skin cells and damage their DNA.

Unprotected sun exposure is also responsible for premature aging of the skin. “As much as 75% of aging changes of the skin can be attributed to sun exposure,” says Dr. Dobratz. “That includes wrinkles, coarse/ leathery skin, pigmentation, irregularities and broken capillaries.”

Solar elastosis is a term that is used to describe the loose, sagging skin that results as the sun breaks down the skins connective tissue – collagen and elastin. UVA radiation exposure enters the skin and causes reactive oxygen species (free radicles) that break down these structural components of the skin. The result is thinning of the skin and laxity appears as fine lines and wrinkles.

Learn more about skin cancer and prevention with Dr. Dobratz at the EVMS Aesthetic Center.