The weather is warming up and it’s a great time to be outdoors, but with skin cancer equaling 50% of all cancer cases in the U.S., it’s important to consider some facts and take precautions before heading outside this summer.
Facts to consider about sun exposure and skin cancer
- Having as few as 5 sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of melanoma.
- Melanoma is responsible for most skin cancer-related deaths; one American dies of melanoma every hour.
- Skin cancer affects any area of the body, but is more common on sun-exposed locations, such as the face, ears, and hands.
- A “base tan” does not protect you from sunburn or sun damage, but actually increases your risk of skin cancer.
- Eyes are susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun; cataracts can be caused by sun exposure.
- Three of the most common mistakes people make when using sunscreen are:
- Not applying enough sunscreen
- Not re-applying sunscreen
- Avoiding exposed, but sensitive areas, such as the lips or ears.
Tips to protect your skin and avoid sunburn
- Choose a sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection)
- SPF 30 or greater
- Water resistance
- Seek shade! The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before swimming; make sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when outdoors.
- Use protective barriers, such as sun-protective clothing and wide-brim hats. Long-sleeve fishing shirts, rash guards, and pants are great options for long, sun-filled days.
- Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection.
- Remember, clouds and water DO NOT protect against the sun’s rays. Clouds only block up to 20% of UV rays. UV effects are magnified when reflected off of snow, sand, and water.
Dr. Ploch’s sunblock picks to protect yourself this summer:
- Elta MD UV Pure SPF 47
- Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby SPF 60
- Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin SPF 30
- Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30
For more information about sun safety, click here.