Stay sun safe this summer with tips from WCH's Dr. Christian Murray

11/06/2018 5:02:03 PM

With the height of summer fast approaching, and golf season now in full swing, the urge to step out without proper sun protection is at its most tempting. But Women’s College Hospital’s dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon, Dr. Christian Murray, cautions against foregoing sun protection.

“We know that most of the damage to our skin occurs in youth, but it is still important to limit ongoing skin injury,” warns Dr. Murray. “The most effective ways to protect oneself from damaging sun exposure are pretty straight forward and the effort now will most certainly pay off later.”
Here, he shares a few tips to ensure you’re staying sun safe this season while still enjoying your favourite outdoor activities:

Limit sun exposure
The sun is at its strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and especially around midday. Make an effort to find shade and limit direct sunlight, especially when outside for long periods of time like for a game of golf or while lounging on a beach. And remember, even cloudy days still allow for enough sunlight to cause damage to skin.

Use wide-brimmed hats
Baseball hats and visors still allow sun to hit the sides of the face and neck so they are not the best for protecting against the sun’s damaging rays. The larger surface area of a wide-brimmed hat offers much better protection from direct sunlight. 

Apply – and reapply – sunscreen
Sunscreens of SPF 30 or higher are recommended and should be reapplied every 2 hours or so. Use caution when applying around the mouth, eyes or eyebrows especially if you plan to be active because sweat can spread the sunscreen more widely and it can run into the eyes or mouth. Physical blockers with titanium or zinc are effective alternatives for those with sensitivities to chemical formulations of sunscreen.

Children and babies are at the highest risk of sun damage to the skin. Parents should make an effort to model sun safe practices in their own lives and provide protective hats, clothing and sunscreen for kids when playing outdoors or on field trips. Sunscreen is safe for babies older than 6 months, but extra care should be taken to avoid contact with their eyes or mouth.  

“And always remember to monitor for any skin changes,” reminds Dr. Murray. “Treatment is very effective when caught at an early stage so never hesitate to have a suspicious spot or bump checked out by your family doctor or a dermatologist.”