Is sun protection important only in the summer?

Sun protection is important all year round. The sun can damage your skin in all seasons. Extra care should be taken when near water, sand, concrete or snow as the sun reflects off of these surfaces.

Can you get a burn on a cloudy day?

Yes. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and can be strong enough to cause a sunburn.

Is it okay to get a tan as long as I don’t burn?

A tan is a sign of permanent skin damage. Protecting your skin from the sun to avoid a tan or burn is the best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Is sunscreen the best way to protect my skin?

Sunscreen is one way to protect your skin from the sun. Best practices recommend that you use sunscreen in conjunction with hats, sunglasses, long clothing and shade and that you reduce your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest.

What kind of sunscreen is best?

Look for a sunscreen that is water resistant, ‘broad spectrum’ (which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays) with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more. In Canada, look for sunscreens tested and approved by the Canadian Dermatology Association.

Should I be concerned about chemicals in sunscreen?

Health Canada regulates the safety, effectiveness, and quality of sunscreens in Canada. Sunscreen products are classified as drugs and must meet the requirements of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act before they may be imported, advertised, or sold.

There are two types of sunscreen, the more commonly used ‘chemical sunscreen’, which filters and neutralizes UV rays, and ‘physical sunscreen’ (often referred to as sun block) which reflects UV rays.

Some groups believe that certain chemicals in ‘chemical sunscreen’ may be harmful to your health. However, leading health organizations confirm that this is not the case:

Canadian Cancer Society:

American Academy of Dermatologists:

If, nevertheless, you are concerned about certain chemicals in ‘chemical sunscreen’, choose a ‘physical sunscreen’ instead. Ask your pharmacist for guidance in choosing a sunscreen that meets your needs.

Whatever kind of sunscreen you use, ensure that it is broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30 or more and that you follow application guidelines carefully. Remember to use sunscreen with hats, sunglasses, long clothing and shade, and reduce your time in the sun between 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest, to ensure proper sun protection.

How do I use sunscreen?

Apply a large amount of sunscreen (the equivalent of a shot glass or a palmful) to all exposed areas of your skin 20 minutes before you go outside. Read the instructions on the bottle carefully and reapply at least every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.

Can babies wear sunscreen?

It is recommended that babies under 6 months not wear sunscreen. Since babies have extremely delicate skin, take extra precaution to cover their skin with long loose clothing and hats and keep them in the shade.

What is the UV index and how do I use it?

The UV Index forecasts the sun’s intensity on a scale of 0-11. Reported on most weather forecasts, the UV Index helps people understand what time of day the sun is strongest so they can take measures to protect their skin.
UV Index Canada

Will protecting my skin in the sun reduce my Vitamin D levels?

Vitamin D is important for your health and is obtained through sun exposure, some foods and supplements. To avoid the increased risk of melanoma through sun exposure, speak to your doctor about how you can get sufficient vitamin D through your diet and/or vitamin supplements.

What are the signs of melanoma?

Melanoma can be treatable if caught early but can be fatal if detected in advanced stages. It is very important to check your skin regularly and report any changes to your doctor. Use our tools to:
Learn how to check your skin
Know what to look for
Track your moles

Where can I learn more?

We recommend the following sites for more information on melanoma and melanoma prevention.
Canadian Cancer Society www.cancer.ca
Canadian Cancer Society Statistics 2014 with a special report on skin cancer: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/canadian-cancer-statistics-publication/?region=on
Canadian Dermatology Association www.dermatology.ca
American Academy of Dermatology www.aad.org
American Cancer Society www.cancer.org
The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/prevent-skin-cancer/