After such an extreme winter season, we will all be looking forward to the warmer, sunny days to come! When those days do eventually arrive, it’s important to stay sun safe while you bask in the warmth of the great outdoors! To follow are the first five ways to protect your skin all year round:
#1: Sunscreen Early and Often
Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is recommended. Sunscreen won’t be fully absorbed into the skin, which typically takes about 30 minutes. When outside, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, especially to commonly missed spots such as the scalp, neck and back of hands. Sunscreen is your first line of defense against skin cancer. Don’t forget it, but don’t rely solely on it either.
#2: Stay Out of Bed
People who use tanning beds at least once a month increase their risk of skin cancer by 55 percent, according to studies, and the numbers are even more ominous for people who begin such tanning regimens in their 20s. Safer options than the sun-induced tan are spray-on tanning or a self-tanning lotion, both of which create a browner tone by interacting with amino acids in the skin but don’t involve melanocytes (skin cells that can become skin cancer).
#3: Avoid Peak Sun Hours
It’s best to plan outdoor excursions like trips to the beach for earlier or later in the day to avoid when the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest, which typically occurs between the hours of 1am and 4pm. You shouldn’t let mild temperatures or lots of clouds fool you either. They won’t protect you because UV intensity has more to do with the angle of the rays than the temperature or the sun’s brightness. Even if it may not seem especially hot outside, sun damage can still happen.
#4: Check for Moles Regularly
Check for moles on a regular basis, especially if there is a family history of skin cancer in your family. The best way to check is to stand naked in front of a mirror and beginning with the face work your way down, using a handheld mirror for difficult-to-see places. Be on the lookout for changes in moles, especially any new black-colored moles or changes in size, shape, outline, color or feel. Notify your dermatologist immediately if you see any changes.
#5: Don’t Get Burned
The damage sunburns can cause doesn’t go away when the redness fades. That damage can develop into skin cancer years and even decades later. Your risk of developing skin cancer actually doubles if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime – so don’t get burned! Have fun in the sun, but always protect yourself and your children to lower the risk of skin cancer. While there is no consensus as to the reason, those with dark skin experience skin cancer at lower rates, but the disease is more likely to be deadly.