Skin Cancer 101 and Sunscreen

The importance of SPF

Aging skin and skin cancer have three things in common
1. Both are mainly caused by excess UV exposure
2. Both lead to compromised skin function
3. Both affect the skin's normal healthy appearance.  

Common distinct visible signs of aged/sun damaged skin include reduced elasticity, hyperpigmentation, sun spots, roughened or uneven texture and wrinkling. Skin aging often precedes skin cancer which can be destructive and deadly if not treated early.
Fortunately, both skin aging and skin cancer can be prevented by wearing sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or higher for optimal skin protection, wearing UV protective clothing, seeking shade, as well as other lifestyle modifications. The best sunscreen for face is one that does not sting the eyes, does not clog the pores, and does not feel oily or clumpy. For these reasons, we recommend ZO SPF 30 or 50.

Things you can do to help detect skin cancer early
1. Get to know your skin well. Regular visual inspections of your skin will give you a baseline from which to detect future changes.
2. Visit a Nurse Practitioner specialised in Dermatology or a Dermatologist to get a full skin review. This will provide you with a skin health baseline as well as identify skin cancer risk. 
3. Be alert for any changes in a mole or skin growth and look for the ABCDE characteristics which include Asymmetry, irregular Border, Color changes, Diameter (size larger than the end of an eraser or 6mm), and if the lesion is Evolving (changing). Often it is the patient or their loved one who finds a cancerous lesion before anyone else does so it's important to know what you're looking for.
4. Pay attention to your intuition or "gut feeling" about a mole or skin lesion and persist that it be looked at or biopsied by your Doctor. There have been skin cancer cases where the patient was right and the professional wrong.
5. Be alert for changes in the appearance of previously injured skin. Sometimes skin cancer grows within a scar or previously traumatized skin.
6. Be alert for a wound that will not heal or a lesion that bleeds intermittently with or without trauma. 
7. Ask a loved one to inspect your back and other areas that are difficult to inspect regularly.  
8. Become familiar with your family history of skin cancer. There is a genetic predisposition for increased skin cancer risk. Also you are more at risk if you have had an organ transplant and are taking anti rejection medications. 

What does SPF mean?
A monitor used for protection against UVB ray penetration not UVA (rays that age the skin)
SPF 15 blocks 93% UVB
SPF 30 blocks nearly 97% UVB
SPF 50 blocks 98% UVB

*Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen (one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays) no lower than 30 SPF and no higher than SPF 50 that contain UVA blocking ingredients like Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, Ecamsule, and Oxybenzone. (Skin Cancer Foundation, 2016). We like ZO SPF which you can purchase at DermNurse and or La Roche Posay ultra fluid 60 SPF which you can purchase at Shoppers Drug Mart

Application amount: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation it is recommended to apply 2mg (4 peasized amounts) of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin for optimal protection


All rays are not created equal


UVA's: Aging rays. Longest wavelength penetrates the epidermis and into the dermis. Can cause DNA changes.
UVB's: Burning rays. Shorter wavelength penetrates the epidermis only but plays a key role in skin cancer
​Please click the "Learn More" box below for more information

How the Sun Sees Your Face

UV Rays

How To Perform A Skin Self Exam