While some exposure to natural sunlight can improve our health and mood, too much exposure can have the opposite effect. Skin cancer – the most common type of cancer in the U.S. – is primarily caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are also responsible for nasty sunburns, hyperpigmentation, and prematurely aged skin.
In honor of UV Safety Awareness Month this July, we’re giving you five ways to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Read on to learn more.
1. Apply Sunscreen….and Keep Reapplying
Wear sunscreen every single day – even gloomy, overcast, and rainy days. Select sunscreen that is:
- At least SPF 30
- Broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
- Water resistant
- Not expired (check the bottle if you’ve had it for a while – most sunscreens expire after 2-3 years)
Before heading outside to the beach, waterpark, or park, apply sunscreen liberally to every exposed area of skin. Many people don’t use enough sunscreen – the correct amount you need is approximately one ounce (roughly the size of a shot glass) for the body and half a teaspoon for the face. And remember to reapply every two hours for continued protection.
2. Avoid the Tanning Salon
The sun isn’t the only source of harmful UV rays – tanning beds and sun lamps also expose your skin to dangerous levels of radiation that can contribute to skin aging and skin cancer. In fact, research shows that tanning beds emit UVA rays that are three times as intense as natural sunlight. If you want the appearance of a healthy glow for a wedding or special event, skip the tanning salon and use sunless self-tanning lotions or wipes.
3. Seek Shade
If you’re going to spend time outside, seek shade – whether that involves picnicking under a covered pavilion or setting up an umbrella or pop-up tent at the beach. It’s especially important to stay in the shade as much as possible during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. During outdoor activities, keep this rule of thumb in mind: if your shadow is shorter than you, seek shade.
4. Cover Up With Clothes
Dark-colored and tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, pants, and long skirts can help protect your skin from sun damage. Of course, we realize that spending all your time outside covered up with clothing isn’t always practical or comfortable in the Florida heat. At the very least, don a t-shirt or beach cover, when possible, accompanied by other sun safety methods like wearing sunscreen and finding shade.
5. Wear a Hat and Sunglasses
Protect your scalp, face, neck, ears, and eyes while you’re outside with a hat and sunglasses. Choose a wide-brimmed hat that covers your entire face and wraparound sunglasses that prevent UV rays from hitting your eyes. Like with clothing, the best hats for sun protection are tightly woven and darker in color.
Call FLDSCC for All Your Summer Skin Care Needs
At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, we want you to have a fantastic summer without worrying about the health of your skin! Call us today to make an appointment for an annual examination or skin cancer screening.