Remember to protect yourself, too

Gardeners might not think twice about running out in their pyjamas (as I did last night) to protect their tender annuals from a possible frost. But would they take the same degree of precaution for their own safety – when it comes to sun exposure? I know I didn’t, until recently.

This year, I noticed a small growth on my forearm, and it was getting larger. My doctor diagnosed it as an actinic keratosis, and burned it off. The keratosis in itself is not life-threatening but, if unattended, might evolve into squamous skin cancer. It was a rude awakening for me.

Besides gardening and photography, another of my hobbies is power-walking. Between the three, I can spend extended periods outdoors. Despite my Nordic complexion, I never wore sunscreen. You can bet I’ll be wearing it now.

A friend passed along this information on broad-spectrum sunscreen protection, gleaned from a dermatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Here it is, for your information.

To get protection against both UVB rays and UVA rays, look for a product that contains mexoryl, helioplex, or parsol 1786. If you blank out when it comes to remembering chemical names, any product that carries the seal of the Canadian Dermatology Association will provide good broad spectrum protection. There is a list at the web site below.

The dermatologist’s particular recommendations were:
La Roche Anthelios
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer

However, these recommendations are based on finding a product that feels nice on your skin, so that you won’t mind using it. The most important thing is to find something you like, so that you’ll use it.

Yesterday, out on a walk, I saw a parent on a bike with his two little kids. Both of the little ones were wearing helmets, but dad didn’t have one on. I always ask myself: If Jack fell down and broke his crown when out riding, who would take care of his children?

Please be as careful with yourself as you would be with those more delicate, whether they’re children or plants. No one ever expects “it” will happen to them.

By the way, I’ll probably have to protect my tender annuals from the cold again tonight. Hopefully, not in my PJs.


  1. We’ve had some chilly temperatures in the Chicago area the last couple of nights. With our trees all leafed out though, I haven’t had to protect anything. I’m glad I haven’t started putting tomatoes and peppers out yet!

  2. Thanks for making me a “fave” on Blotanical. I had a boyfriend who went to St. Michael’s in the 1970s and I used to be up in Toronto (I lived in Buffalo and Rochester, NY at the time) every few weeks. I thought it was a great city then — I can only imagine it today.

    When I was young my mom worked for a dermatologist, so I’ve always been pretty good about sunscreen. But thanks for the details on what to look for — and great illustration for the subject. I totally agree with you on parents not wearing helmets. I always want to say something to them.

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