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June 19, 2012

Choosing Sunscreen

Serious sun protection is vital on the water when fishing

Historically, sunscreens had to show measurably higher effective rates in blocking UVB rays to earn higher SPF ratings. However, as the ratings go up, the increase in the percentage of UVB rays blocked is not linear. For example, SPF 15 blocks approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, reports Kennedy.

“Obviously, I’m for as much protection as one can get, but I don’t want my patients to think they’re buying more than twice the protection with a SPF 70 product versus a 30 SPF,” she says. “I do recommend using at least a 30 SPF sunblock, but whether you use a 30 or 70, regular reapplication is wise.”

Kennedy recommends applying a generous coating of sunblock before any exposure and then reapplying more every two hours at a minimum. Coverage should include all exposed skin, especially the ears and the back of the neck and legs.

SPF-rated clothing offers enhanced sun protection. Tighter weaves block rays more effectively than loosely woven or see-through fabrics. Quality polarized sunglasses are another valuable tool. Excessive sun exposure contributes to the development of cataracts, and not only do polarized lenses block harmful UV rays and allow better vision into the water, but wearers squint less, which slows the development of wrinkles.

“As much as possible, I would advise anglers to avoid peak sun hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” Kennedy says. “Early morning and late afternoon trips lower anglers’ cancer risks compared to those taken during the peak hours. Another good way to avoid sun damage aboard the boat is to find shade, be it under a T-top, Bimini top, salon overhang or even an umbrella. Be aware, though, that without sunblock, you can still be exposed to harmful rays reflected off the water.”

Kennedy says the frequency that anglers should be examined for possible skin damage depends on multiple factors, including an individual’s own cancer history, as well as family history of skin cancer. Those diagnosed with basal or squamous cell carcinomas should, at a minimum, schedule a checkup annually. Patients diagnosed with melanoma should be checked every three or six months, depending on the severity of the disease. And dermatologists are almost always better qualified to accurately diagnose possible skin cancers than a
general practitioner.