Summer is in full swing and that means plenty of time by the water, both at the beach and the pool. The effects of long-term sun exposure on summer vacation are well-known. However, everyday sun exposure can also lead to skin damage and potentially cancer.
Skin damage from the sun can happen at the beach or in your backyard.
It’s important to know that millions of new non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed every year. In fact, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of non-melanoma skin cancer in their lifetime.
More alarming than those numbers is the age of those being diagnosed. More and more people in their 20s and 30s, especially women, are being diagnosed with skin cancer.
Sun exposure has a cumulative effect on the skin, which means each burn stays with you forever and builds upon previous unprotected exposures. Effects don’t wane over time. That’s why it’s important to be aware that spending any amount of time outside, whether mowing the grass or shopping at an outdoor mall, can cause skin damage. Skin protection is essential for prevention..
So what are the ways you can minimize sun damage?
#1 Avoid Exposure
The simplest and most effective way is to avoid sun exposure, period. Seek shade when outdoors, and do not sunbathe. When you must be outside, be mindful that the peak hours of sun UV rays are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Yard work, outdoor exercise and other activities that could expose your skin to sun should be completed outside these times. Life often calls for us to be outdoors though, so when you are …
#2 Wear Sunscreen
If you know you will be in the sun for more than a few minutes, apply sunscreen before going out. Make sure to re-apply every two to three hours if you will be outside for an extended amount of time. New government regulations will limit what sunscreens can and can’t say on packaging next year. Misleading terms, like water proof, sweat resistant and sunblock will no longer be allowed, and all sunscreens will be required to undergo testing by the FDA to determine if they protect against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (both contribute to sunburn, aging of the skin, and skin cancer).
#3 Be Careful on Cloudy Days
Even when it’s overcast, apply sunscreen. UV light can penetrate clouds, so be mindful of your exposure. And whatever you do …
#4 Don’t Use Tanning Beds
Tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used under any circumstances. Choose spray tans or tanning lotions instead.
Living by these tips can help prevent premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. If you happen to get sunburned, or have had sunburn in the past, keep an eye on your skin and look for discoloration and oddly shaped moles. See a dermatologist if you have any spots you may be concerned about.