Why do I wear SPF every day?

I wear SPF50+ every day – rain, hail or shine. The average daily maximum UV index for South-East Queensland is 4-5 in the winter months and 11-12 in summer. Meaning, we are always above the threshold at which sun protection is recommended.

To be fair, I am very fair. My melanin levels were not designed for the latitude at which I live. However, please don’t neglect sun protection if you have a darker skin tone. Anyone can get melanoma.

Sun protection is of particular importance in several medical conditions:

  • “sun allergy” is real. Photodermatoses/photosensitivity disorders are a group of conditions in which the skin has an abnormal response to exposure to UV or visible light. Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE/PLE) is the most common of these conditions.
  • many treatments/drugs can increase photosensitivity
  • immunosuppression is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer
  • the rashes/skin manifestations of autoimmune conditions such as lupus may be triggered by sun exposure (i.e. they are photosensitive rashes).

Using SPF daily:

I would go for SPF30 in a pinch, but generally SPF50+. It needs to be broad spectrum (i.e. with both UVA and UVB protection. Where does the SPF go? All exposed areas – face, including around the eyes, ears, neck (front and back), chest, hands and forearms. Don’t forget lips! SunSense, Bondi Sands and Mecca make nice SPF50 lip balms. 

Other sun protection strategies: sunglasses always. You can get melanoma of the eye, so please wear sunglasses and get your routine eye checks. I have a roll up visor and umbrella in the car for incidental exposure. Long sleeves + gloves for driving (yes really).

Proviso: I do take vitamin D supplements regularly. 
Yes, your skin needs sunlight to synthesise vitamin D. But for a Fitzpatrick type 1 living in Australia – the risk to my skin from sun exposure is greater than the vitamin D benefit (when it is readily available as a supplement).

😎 Smile and breath, Mel

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