What are the best sun protective strategies for men?

Nov 06, 2012 No Comments by

Dr. Ryan Goerig, a board-certified dermatologist, specializes in aesthetic dermatology at Vorteil Dermatology in Dana Point, CA, the first aesthetic dermatology center to focus on men.  Men’s skin is different than women’s skin.  Its structure and function is fundamentally unique and requires specialized knowledge and different treatment approaches.  This is why Dr. Goerig pays special attention to men’s dermatologic needs, including aesthetic dermatology and the treatment of male pattern baldness, acne scars and rosacea. Having extensive training in aesthetic dermatology, Dr. Goerig knows the importance of using sun protection in order to aid the skin conditions men are susceptible to, including skin aging and skin cancer.

Dr. Goerig poses the following question for men: What are the best sun protective strategies for men?

Here’s his answer:

This is a great question that I hear often from my male patients.    Men over the age of 40 tend to spend more time outdoors than their women counterparts, accumulating much more ultraviolet radiation exposure in the process.  This is concerning given that sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer, which is now considered epidemic in the United States.  Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in men over age 50, ahead of other cancers such as colon and prostate.  According to the American Cancer Society, 39,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, occur in men each year in the US.  In fact, one in 39 Caucasian men will develop melanoma in their lifetime.  In this regard, an effective sun protection strategy is critical to preventing skin cancer and premature skin aging. 

So, what should men do?  First, avoid the intense, mid-day sun by doing outdoor activities (such as golfing, cycling or gardening) before 10 am or after 4 pm.  Doing this will avoid the majority of the day’s UV-B (cancer causing) rays.  Also, since incidental sun exposure over time can really add up, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day after shaving can go a long way toward preventing skin cancer.  Since men’s skin tends to be oilier than women’s skin, water or alcohol based gels and sprays are better because they don’t tend to leave the skin feeling greasy.   For outdoor activities, a sport sunscreen works best because it is designed to absorb quickly. Stick sunscreens, when applied to the forehead and around the eyes, are great for water activities because they won’t run into the eyes and sting.  It is important to keep trying different brands and types to see what you like best, then being consistent with it.  In addition to regular sunscreen use, protective clothing, with a UPF of at least 30, is very effective at blocking harmful ultraviolet rays.  Coolibar has a variety of excellent UPF rated clothing options for men.  For areas of the skin that are difficult to apply sunscreen to, like the inner ear and eyelid, a sun hat provides outstanding protection. 

In general, skin cancer is caused by excessive, cumulative ultraviolet radiation exposure and, in most men, is completely preventable.  Following these simple recommendations can go a long way toward keeping your skin protected and cancer free. 

Written by:  Ryan Goerig, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology

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