Warmer temperatures come with a warning: protect your skin
Temperatures warm up. The snow is finally melting. Picnics and outdoor activities began to define the calendar. Yes, summer is on the horizon, and that is a relief to many, especially after the harsh winter that has hit most parts of the country. But beyond the joys of sunny celebrations, there are dangers that threaten to spoil the fun. With May being National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s time for some reminders about how to reduce your risk of sun damage.
You can start by applying sunscreen, even when running errands or driving around town. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day and a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for prolonged outdoor activities. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the vast majority of Americans do not follow these prevention tips. The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology , found that only 14.3 percent of men and 29.9 percent of women surveyed reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when out in the sun for more than an hour.
Tips to protect your skin
With approximately 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year, skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer in the United States, and government officials estimate that one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that it is a highly preventable disease. Here are some tips to help protect your skin this summer or any time of the year:
Avoid the sun especially between 10am and 4pm, and don’t be fooled by cloudy days. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate clouds.
Follow the rule of shade and teach it to your children: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are stronger and it’s time to seek shade.
Wear protective clothing , the type of tightly woven fabric that cannot be seen through light.
Get sunglasses with UV protection , ones that absorb up to 99 percent or 100 percent of UV rays.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. Apply generous amounts to your face, body and lip balm. And reapply throughout the day, especially after sports or water activities.
Use high technology. Need a reminder when you have a lot of sunshine? Today there are a number of wearables, from UV metering bracelets to smartphone apps that extract data from sun spots on your skin, alerting you when it’s time to reapply sunscreen or step out in the sun.
Avoid tanning beds.
Check your skin from head to toe once a month, and see a doctor if you notice any irregularities.
See your dermatologist once a year for professional full-body skin checks.
Whatever you do, the key is to avoid UV rays as much as possible. Ultraviolet light is the main factor associated with basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and possibly melanoma.