To Protect Against Melanoma, SPF is Important!

Jun 25, 2024 / Dermatology

Thomas Rosenfeld, MD
Chief, Division of Dermatology

Melanoma, one of the most dangerous skin cancers, is a very common disease. In fact, from 2009 to 2019, rates of new melanoma cases increased by 40% in the United States. The reason for this substantial increase is not entirely clear. However, it emphasizes doing everything you can to protect yourself from getting this potentially deadly skin cancer.

You can reduce your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers by using proper sun protection. This starts with wearing protective clothing when you are in the sun, including a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, special sun-protective garments, and long sleeves when possible.

Sunscreen should also be used, especially if you are going to be outside during the midday hours or for an extended period. The SPF (SPF stands for sun protection factor) of the sunscreen you apply is crucial in terms of the protection it provides. Dermatologists recommend a broad-based sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Studies have confirmed that higher SPF sunscreens do a better job of protecting against skin cancer. The Norwegian Women and Cancer study compared rates of melanoma in women age 40 to 75 years old. In this study, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or greater were associated with significantly decreased melanoma risk compared to sunscreens of SPF 15 or less. You can read more about the study here.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to reapply your sunscreen after two hours in the sun, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness. If you have a concern about the ingredients used in chemical sunscreens, choose a mineral-based one. These sunscreens utilize ingredients including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that stay on the skin’s surface and reflect UV radiation rather than being absorbed into the skin. You can learn more about the best sunscreens to protect you and your family here. Whichever sunscreen you use, be sure to check the SPF to get the protection you need!

To Protect Against Melanoma, SPF is Important!

About Thomas Rosenfeld, MD, Chief of Dermatology

Dr. Thomas Rosenfeld was always interested in science as a child, so it’s no surprise that he decided to go into medicine. Before his undergraduate years, he worked in a hospital emergency room to get an idea of what aspect of medicine interested him most. It was during his medical school education that he decided on dermatology. He was on morning rounds, in 3rd year, at the VCU hospital when a woman was being treated for blood...

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