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Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Your Health Resources

Top 5 Most Overlooked ​Areas of Your Body

December 07, 2019

The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that approximately 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

Sun exposure is one of the chief causes of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Many people find themselves combating harmful UV rays to protect their skin. And while most people remember to slather sunscreen on their arms, legs, and face, there are other places they commonly overlook.

Dr. Pauline Scott, a board-certified dermatologist, breaks down five areas where people raise their exposure risk by failing to apply sunscreen.

The “Forgotten Five”

No matter how diligent they are about putting on sunscreen, people commonly forget to protect their hair, the tops of their feet, the sides of their face, the back of their neck, and their cheek and neck area.

  1. The part in your hair. Bald men know to wear a hat or put on sunscreen, but people with thicker hair don't realize they're at risk, too. To protect that part in your hair, use spray-on sunscreen. Also, if you color your hair, this will help you keep your color.
  2. The sides of your face. The temples and fronts of the ears see a lot of sun damage. That's because people tend to put sunscreen on in the center and smear outwards, so they run out by the time they get to the edge. Instead, dab it all over and then blend.
  3. Back of the neck. This is a must for people with short haircuts that don't cover the neck.
  4. Neck and chest area. The skin in these areas scars more easily and ages faster than it does on the face so make sure it’s covered with sunscreen.
  5. Feet. It's flip-flop and sandal season, but people forget the tops of their feet.

How to Choose Sunscreen

Mexoryl, a popular sunscreen ingredient, can help protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Other brands have photo-stabilized protection to help protect your skin from burning rays that lead to wrinkles and melanoma.

An SPF number refers to the UVB burning protection a product offers (for example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, used correctly, allows the user to stay in the sun 15 times longer without burning). UVA rays, while not contributing to sunburns, damage deeper layers of the skin and probably play an important role in wrinkling, spotting, lost elasticity, and melanoma.

It's important to note that sunscreen products are lab tested, but testers put on more sunscreen than the average person will. When applying an SPF of 30, you're more likely getting the protection of about 15, which is why it's that much more important to reapply.

Next time you're in the drugstore, look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more with UVA and UVB protection.

Reapplying Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure. Then, every two hours, whether you're sunbathing or strolling on the beach, you should reapply. Swimming, toweling off and perspiration can weaken or halt its effectiveness.

Pay special attention to your lips. You need a lip balm or lip gloss with an SPF of 15 or more. Clear lip gloss contains mineral oil, which intensifies the effects of the sun. So, if you're going to wear it, put some SPF balm underneath. The “indestructible” Olympic champion and professional athlete Jim Thorpe developed lip cancer. Don’t let it happen to you.

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