With warmer days ahead of us, chances are you’re ready to get outside and take advantage of those bright, sunny days. Doing so is also a great way to relieve stress and increase vitamin D.
However, if you’re not careful, over exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays has the potential to damage skin cells, increasing the likelihood of skin cancer. This is especially true if you also frequent tanning beds or use sun lamps.
Since our skin is our largest and one of the most sensitive organs, it’s important that you protect yourself from sun damage this summer – and there are many ways you can do that. Some of these include using sunscreen, coverage from shade and even clothing to shield your skin from the increased sunshine.
“Clothing is a great option to protect your skin, such as longer sleeved shirts or pants,” Michele Ralofsky, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Health – Vermillion Primary Care, shares. “Even at a pool or beach, having a cover up with you can help you be sun safe. Accessories such as wide-brimmed hats can also allow for the protection of your face and eyes from the sun. Sunglasses can also aid in the protection of your face and eyes from the sun to reduce the risk of future cataracts.”
In addition to clothing, having a place to go for shade when at the beach or the backyard is another option to help keep your skin healthy while outside this summer. If you’re going to be in the sun for a long time, make sure you have a covered area to give your skin a break and make sure to reapply layers of sunscreen on exposed skin.
“Applying sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun that has an SPF of 30 or higher should also be part of your daily routine and done year-round,” Dr. Ralofsky states. “This is true even when the sun is not out. Reapplication of your sunscreen is also key to keeping your skin safe in the sun. You should always reapply your sunscreen if you’ve been outside for more than one hour, if you’ve been in water or if you are sweating.”
Dr. Ralofsky adds that it’s important to remember while each of these skin protection options work, they are most effective when you use them collectively to fully protect your skin from damage.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. However, it can be prevented with sun safety and appropriate protections. Thus, it is critical to take care of our skin. While some people might be more at risk for skin cancer than others, the potential for UV rays to harm us can impact everyone.
Some skin cancer risk factors can include skin that burns or freckles easily, having light colored eyes, blond or red hair and certain moles on your skin that seem to be unusual. Also, knowing your family history of skin cancer and your sunburn risk can help catch signs of skin cancer quickly.
As summer quickly approaches, it’s a good time to think about your sun safety routine. No matter what your summer plans are, protection from the sun should always be a part of them. If you think you might be at higher risk for skin cancer, or you see any unusual changes to moles or your skin, it’s always important to contact your health care provider.