As the months of swimming, gardening, and spending time outside are among us, folks should be reminded that using sunscreen is extremely important. 

Dr. Jessica Fudge, a dermatologist from SKIN Clinics, shares information on how to protect your skin. 

“I think everyone should be using sunscreen, not just in the summer, but throughout the year. Even in the winter, because 80% of the sun's rays reflect from the snow.” 

Dr. Fudge says she knows people want to be out enjoying the sun but going outside without sunscreen will cause damage to your skin.  

“Particularly in the summer, it's important to protect yourself from UV rays that cause DNA damage, which can lead to skin cancers,” she explains. “Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in the world, and it's easily prevented with perfect sun protection and even imperfect sun protection.” 

When applying sunscreen, Dr. Fudge says using some is better than none, but there is a recommended amount. 

“For the average adult human, it takes about a shot glass full of sunscreen or two tablespoons in order to cover the full body. Most of the time, I would say at least 20% to 50% of people are actually underusing sunscreen.” 

She says that people are typically good at applying sunscreen at least once when they plan to be outside. 

“The key is to reapply regularly throughout the day if you're going to be in the sun, especially after sweating or swimming,” she explains. “The Canadian Dermatology Association recommendation is to use an SPF of minimum 30 and you want to look for something that also says, ‘broad spectrum’ on the label.” 

Dr. Fudge shares that folks should be going through a 200-milliliter bottle every two to three weeks when using it daily. 

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She goes on to share important information about sunscreen that may not be known.

“I would absolutely follow the expiry date because if you're using expired sunscreen, then there's no guarantee that you will get the same amount of protection that's written on the label” 

She continues, “It's important not to leave your sunscreen in the car, especially in the summer when it's so hot because it'll denature some of the ingredients in there and also render it less effective.” 

She says that along with sunscreen, other precautions are important like seeking shade and wearing protective gear including clothing, wide-brim hats, and sunglasses. 

Sunburns can happen and Dr. Fudge shares what you should do to help heal your skin. 

“If you do get a sunburn, the main thing that you can do is don't pick at the skin,” she explains. “You can use cold compresses or cooling compresses to help soothe the heat and the prickliness that you get if it's a severe sunburn. Sometimes you will need some prescription treatments in order to ease the pain from the burn. If you do get a blistering sunburn, it's important to seek out the help of your physician or dermatologist.” 

She explains what you can look for when checking your skin for any abnormalities. 

“Sores on your skin that are not painful but just don't heal is important to get looked at because those can indicate either a squamous-cell or a basal-cell carcinoma.” 

Dr. Fudge says that those checking at home can follow the ABC rules. 

Borders that are irregular or fuzzy.  

Colours - anything with multiple colours or jet black. 

Diameter – 6mm or greater. 

She concludes that patients are never faulted for asking questions and she prefers the precaution instead of having a different type of conversation later on.  

With files from Carly Koop