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Old 20-06-2015, 01:16   #1
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How white is too white?

Here's a silly question. I've watched lots of videos of cruisers sailing the world and having a blast in the tropics, and with few or no exceptions, everyone featured is deeply bronzed. I'm fairly pale, and will probably freckle more than I'll tan. More importantly though, cancer is not on my to-acquire list.

If I spend 6 months or a year or two sailing the tropics, how practical is it to stay safe lathering on sunscreen and wearing the appropriate clothing?
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Old 20-06-2015, 01:41   #2
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Re: How white is too white?

You (and I) are genetically unqualified for the tropics. In recent years, I've stayed as much as possible in an enclosed pilothouse while boating. Otherwise wearing a wide hat and long sleeves and pants having already been over exposed for five decades.


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Old 20-06-2015, 02:06   #3
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Re: How white is too white?

Likewise< I too suffer from a life spent mostly in the tropics. Our boat has permanent shade over the wheel and a large hard top. As for personal protection, my doctor recommends applying sunscreen regularly, every day - not just when you think you are being exposed. Apparently the dose is cumulative and each minute adds up - my skin will burn after as little as 15 minutes total exposure in a day. She also recommends clothing as providing better protection than sunscreen. It sounds onerous but - hey, I am still out here having fun.
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Old 20-06-2015, 02:14   #4
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Re: How white is too white?

Genetically unqualified for the tropics or not, it's where I'd want to be (sailing). Bathing in the sun? No. Hopping from island to island, diving, and seeing things only available in the tropics? Absolutely.

It seems like applying quality sunscreen products, UV protecting clothing, shade, and avoiding the 10-4 sun will have to become habit at sea.
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Old 20-06-2015, 02:20   #5
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Re: How white is too white?

A good place to look for ideas is here:-

Cancer Council Shop - Cancer Council Australia

I too am genetically inadequately protected for the tropics.
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Old 20-06-2015, 04:29   #6
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Re: How white is too white?

As part of a complete sun protection regimen, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended covering up with clothing (with a ultraviolet protection factor/UPF of at least 30), including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-filtering sunglasses, and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 for everyday incidental exposure and 30 or higher for extended exposure.
Clothing - SkinCancer.org
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Old 20-06-2015, 05:35   #7
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Re: How white is too white?

All of the above... plus lots of sunscreen for nose, ears, back of hands, and feet.... the feet are the forgotten bits.

And its not just the tropics... Tierra del Fuego has one of the worst rates of skin cancer in the world....
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Old 20-06-2015, 05:47   #8
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Re: How white is too white?

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Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
All of the above... plus lots of sunscreen for nose, ears, back of hands, and feet.... the feet are the forgotten bits.



And its not just the tropics... Tierra del Fuego has one of the worst rates of skin cancer in the world....

You only forget feet once 😖


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Old 20-06-2015, 06:08   #9
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Re: How white is too white?

Lots of good "rash guard" UV protectant clothing available these days which can help reduce the sunscreen regime.

I've got skin reasonably well suited to the tropics, but after a lifetime living in hot places my head and hands are starting to show the effects.
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Old 20-06-2015, 06:39   #10
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Re: How white is too white?

I never use sunscreen or apply any chemicals to my skin. I don't dump bleach in my water, either. It's a personal thing. I do avoid the sun whenever possible, as do most people who live in the tropics full time. We see plenty of bronzers, and they rarely live here full time. They try to get as tan as they can while here so they can impress people back home, I suppose. People who live in the sun know better. I see the effects of UV every day of my life. It's radiation.

But relying on sun screen is dangerous, too. Just get caught out in the sun for one day without it after relying on it. You'll fry. Use shade instead of slathering on chemicals. Hats and long sleeve shirts. Watch how the gardeners dress on a tropical island. They don't buy sunscreen.
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Old 20-06-2015, 07:22   #11
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Re: How white is too white?

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
after a lifetime living in hot places my head and hands are starting to show the effects.
Just to clarify, I think Belizesailor is referring to the skin on his head. Anyone who knows him realizes that living in hot places got to the rest of his head a long time ago - but that is mostly due to rum and hot sauce…

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Old 20-06-2015, 07:46   #12
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Re: How white is too white?

I take Skin Cancer seriously, because a relative died at 56 years old from melanoma that appeared as a small spot on her thigh. She was not pale, but was not a sun worshipper or "outdoorsy" person either. She never used a tanning bed or similar tanning. She was just an average office worker who occasionally wore shorts at the lake or beach etc.

Another person I knew (a tennis pro) died from melanoma that only appeared to be a small mole on his calf. He was in his late 30s.

The key point here is that both had the melanoma appear on their lower body (legs).

In one case the victim was outside (tennis) for years. In the other case, the victim was not a person who spent much time outside.

I have also met a lot of older men (70s, 80s) who spent many hours outside, and now have many patches of skin cut off their faces (noses, cheeks, ears, foreheads), due to sun damage and their doctor's concerns about melanoma.
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Their are many risks in life, but this one (sun damage) is easy to avoid by simply wearing appropriate sun protection (wide brimmed hats, long sleeved shirts, long pants, sunscreen on exposed skin).
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Old 20-06-2015, 07:46   #13
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Re: How white is too white?

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Old 20-06-2015, 07:49   #14
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Re: How white is too white?

True to my good Irish name, I suspect my gene pool has never actually seen the sun . I turn into a Gaelic lobster with the slightest exposure. Therefore I basically live in long pants, shirts, and wide-brim hats, no matter how hot it is out there. I stay in the shade as much as possible.

However, I also slather on the 30+ SPF pretty much every day we're out on the water. On land you can hide under clothes and hats, but on the water solar radiation gets reflected back up to your face and hands. Hats and long clothes help, but you can't hide completely. Given this my only choice is sunscreen.
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Old 20-06-2015, 08:23   #15
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Re: How white is too white?

I knew a guy in the Florida Keys years ago who we all called "doc", not because he was a doctor but because he always wore "scrubs". Said they were cheap and cool and great for the sun. He also wore a BROAD brimmed hat that Pancho Villa would envy.
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