At many businesses, you can tell the time of year by what's on the shelves. This is certainly true in my region, where sunscreens will only be easily visible to shoppers in the summer months. But the truth of the matter is sunscreens are products you need to consider using year-round in most places — especially if you are a fisherman and spend most of your time on big bodies of water which have reflective qualities like a convection oven.
Magnifying the dilemma even more is the scientifically proven damage to our ozone, which also allows more harmful UVA and UVB rays to reach our skin. Today, not only sportsmen, but also anyone that spends time outside has to be aware of the threat. There are more cases of skin cancer than ever before and it's not just among the elderly or those who may have experienced added cumulative time in the sun. Skin cancer cases are becoming more common among the 18-30 age group as well. All ages need to consider this, and common sense likewise tells us to apply it liberally to our kids (especially with the fair skin of the very young).
We can no longer ignore that even on cloudy days the sun can damage our skin. The smart angler covers up and has a protection plan. He wears clothing that covers his skin when possible. In addition, he always applies sunscreen to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight.
First, what to use? Well, check SPF ratings. I like a good non-greasy SPF 30 or greater sunscreen, and honestly, if you buy anything higher than a rating of 50, you are wasting your money. Anything rated higher than SPF 50 will not protect any more than that, no matter what the number says.
One practice to follow when applying sunscreen is to do so in advance of the time you will spend in the sun. I put mine on as soon as I finish shaving. Applying it (to dry skin) early will allow it "soak in" and/or be more adhesive to your skin. In short, it will work much better than if you wait until you get to the lake and are already becoming hot and sweaty. Also, some formulas are slow acting.
Yes, it is true that without sunlight life on our planet could not thrive. Our bodies actually need it for the vitamins it provides, and, to a degree, exposure to it helps keeps us healthy. Too much of it can cause damage, though. Believe me, I know this firsthand. I have had several skin cancers removed that were caused by many years in the sun with little to no protection from its harmful rays.
That said, it is also smart for you to see a dermatologist for regular checkups, especially if you notice spots, blotches or rough patches on your skin.
For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out www.billdanceoutdoors.com.