Dermatologists at Dr. Kamil Al Rustom Skin & Laser Centre in Dubai shares some important measures you can do to help prevent skin cancer
12 June 2023| Last updated on 12 June 2023
Enjoy a sun-safe summer and protect your skin from skin cancer with these top prevention tips.
Skin cancer prevention strategies and early detection are both essential steps everyone must take to protect themselves. Arab countries such as the UAE are prone to bright sunny weather almost all-year round, with many expat residents and visitors receiving exposure to natural ultraviolet (UV) light, which can be harmful in the long-term.
Sun protection is the single most important factor in the prevention of ageing and skin cancer. By adopting simple yet effective lifestyle changes, UAE residents can significantly reduce the risk.
Dr. Naz Fatima, Aesthetic Specialist and General Physician at Dr. Kamil Al Rustom Skin & Laser Centre in Dubai, shared her top skin cancer prevention tips to help reduce the risk.
Tips for a sun-safe summer
- Find shade: Take a break under trees, umbrellas, or head indoors.
- Cover up exposed skin: Wear a loose, long-sleeved top with sunglasses and a hat.
- Use sunscreen: On skin that isn't covered up, use plenty of sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
Understanding Ultraviolet Rays (UVR)
UVR ranges from 100-400nm and can be divided into UVA and UVB, both cause damage to the cells leading to mutations and skin cancer.
UV index (UVI) is the strength of UVR causing sunburn. The higher the UVI the higher the risk of skin damage.
Understanding SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how much solar energy is required to produce sunburn on protected skin (with sunscreen) vs unprotected skin (without sunscreen).
Broad spectrum means it can filter out both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen with SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVR (ultraviolet rays), and sunblock products with SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVR.
How to Choose a Sunscreen
Unprotected skin can damage in as little as 15 minutes in the sun.
When choosing a sunscreen to use in the UAE, it's important to read the labels and select the most appropriate sunscreen for your skin type.
None of the sunscreens can filter out 100% UVR. Sunscreens are also water resistant, not waterproof.
Types of Sunscreens in the UAE
These are the different types of sunscreens you may find in the UAE.
- Physical sunscreen: It protects by deflecting sun’s rays. It contains titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide. It is less likely to irritate skin therefore it is more suitable for sensitive skin or for babies.
- Chemical sunscreen: They protect by absorbing sun’s rays. It contains chemicals oxybenzone or avobenzone. It may cause irritation, allergies or even acne in people with acne prone skin.
- Hybrid sunscreen: Some sunscreens contain both physical and chemical ingredients.
How to correctly apply sunblock?
Approximately 1oz is needed to cover all the exposed areas of the body.
Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun because It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen.
It is usually mentioned on the sunblock bottle whether it should be reapplied every 40 minutes or 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.
Other Protective Measures Against Skin Cancer
Dr. Naz provided other protective measures that can be taken to help reduce risks of skin cancer.
1. Seek shade
When the sun's rays are the strongest, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., stay in the shade. If you must stay outdoors, wear a high SPF, a wide brimmed hat, and carry an umbrella because none of the SPF’s block 100% of UVR.
2. Wear protective clothing
Cover your body with lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
3. Embrace Sun-Safe Habits
Sun-safe habits include:
- Avoiding tanning beds
- Protecting the eyes by wearing sunglasses
- Using a lip SPF
- Be aware of medications: Certain medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
- Be cautious around reflective surfaces: Water, snow, sand, and other reflective surfaces can intensify UV exposure.
In addition to sun safety stay hydrated, quit smoking, and eat a balanced diet. Remember, protecting your skin from the sun is a lifelong commitment.
"Stay informed, be vigilant of any new or changing moles and consult your doctor at first signs of change," added Dr. Naz.