Summer is the time for sand and surf – but don’t forget the sunscreen too. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and excessive exposure to the UVA and UVB rays that cause this disease is all too easy without proper protection. As Skin Cancer Awareness month comes to a close this May, take a moment to learn these simple prevention tips for the future health of your skin:
- Seek shade or stay indoors when the sun is at its peak – between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm DST (9:00 am to 3:00 pm standard time). This is the time frame when UV rays are strongest, even on cloudy or overcast days. Late spring and early summer are the times of year when UV rays are strongest.
- Take extra precaution around water, snow, and sand. These substances reflect UV rays, which heightens their strength when they hit your skin.
- Avoid tanning beds and lamps. Artificial UV rays are just as hazardous as natural UV rays, and studies have shown that use of tanning beds is associated with a higher incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
- Cover up when you are exposed to the sun, and do not stay out for long periods of time. Wear dark, tightly-kit long-sleeved shirts to block out the sun’s rays and hats with wide brims that will protect your face and neck. Sunglasses are another important protectant – find a pair of slick shades that wraps all the way around your head and has UV blocking screens.
- Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher over all visible areas of your body 30 minutes before spending time in the sun. Reapply every two hours and as needed. If you are planning to be outside for longer periods of time, use a waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. In all cases, look for a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, which shields from both UVA and UVB rays.
- In your day to day life, practice good skin protection where you can: Always wear sunglasses when you drive. Invest in UV blocking screens for your car windows, because many models do not offer UVA protection. And don’t sit in the line of direct sunlight when the windows are open in your house – again, many window screens will not adequately block UV rays from entering. Ladies, if you wear foundation purchase one with an SPF component.
- Self-check your skin monthly for any new, unusual, or changing growths and moles. And make regular appointments with your dermatologist for a head-to-toe exam.
Click here to read about the risk factors associated with skin cancer and how to identify cancerous skin lesions. If you believe you may have a skin cancer lesion, or if it’s time for your routine skin exam, call Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers today at the location nearest you.