Sun Protection

 woman wearing sun hatNo longer is a suntan considered a healthy look. With the depletion of the ozone layer, which filters ultraviolet (UV) light, there is an increased incidence of skin cancer in the general population. As a transplant recipient you are even more vulnerable because your immune system is suppressed. Your risk of developing skin cancer will be much greater if you do not protect yourself.

 To help reduce the risk of skin cancer, always apply a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 on all exposed skin. Wear a hat, long sleeve cotton shirt and cotton pants when you are out in the sun. Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 am and 3 pm.

 If you notice that you have developed any kind of skin lesion that is growing or bleeding, or if a mole that you have appears different, you should inform your family doctor or your transplant team as soon as possible.

 Careful attention to the following guidelines can help to further reduce your risk of developing skin cancer:

  •  Apply sunscreen 40 to 60 minutes before going outside to allow it to penetrate the skin thoroughly and provide better protection
  • Pay special attention to sun-exposed areas including ears, face, scalp, neck, back of legs, shoulders and back
  • Do not forget your lips – apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen
  • Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks out the sun's shorter UVB as well as the longer UVA rays. Check the labels for products that contain oxybenzone, dioxybenzone or avobenzone.
  • Note that aminobenzoic acid (also known as PABA), a widely used sunscreen, only protects you from UVB rays but not the longer UVA rays
  • For extra protection use sunscreens that are completely opaque such as those containing titanium oxide or zinc oxide. These now come in many attractive shades and act to completely block the sun's rays.
  • If swimming or perspiring profusely, use waterproof sunscreen and reapply after drying off or if still sweating
  • Beware of cool, cloudy or overcast days as 70 to 80% of the sun's UV rays still penetrate into the atmosphere and can cause a sunburn
  • Remember that sitting in the shade or swimming underwater does not guarantee protection (UV rays penetrate through water)
  • Remember your sunscreen even in winter months if you are taking part in outside activities (e.g. skiing, skating)
  • Note that UV light is reflected from sand, concrete, snow and water. Skiers and water-lovers often sustain serious sunburns from reflected sunlight.
  • UV light may cause cataracts. Always protect your eyes with UV-filtering sunglasses.
  • Be especially vigilant at high altitudes and near the equator where solar radiation is most intense

Posted with permission University Health Network Multi-Organ Transplant




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