Have Fun in the Sun, but Stay Protected too!

Enjoying sun-filled days gives you vitamin D, a significant contributor to mental wellbeing. However, prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes most skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While it’s crucial to protect your skin from the sun all year, your chances of developing skin cancer increase dramatically during the summer months.

 

This is the case since the sun’s UV rays are stronger in the summer than in the rest of the year. With longer days and nice weather, we also tend to spend more time outside with family and friends. This summer, you can enjoy the outdoors by adopting prudent precautions some of which are discussed below.

#1 Wearing protective clothing

Protective clothing, and accessories help to provide a physical block between your skin and the sun rays.

All clothing disrupts UV rays in various amounts. However, UV rays can pass through thin, light-colored, and loosely woven fabrics. Wet fabrics reduce protection by as much as 50%. Stretched, weathered, or over washed fabric also reduces effectiveness.

 

Recognizing the need for a variety of sun-protective clothing options, retailers are carrying greater numbers of clothing styles with high UPF.

 

The American Society for Testing and Materials developed standards for labeling garments as sun protective. A UPF of 30 or higher is necessary for the product to be given the Skin Cancer Foundation seal of approval.

 

A UPF rating of 50 indicates the fabric will allow 1/50th or about 2 percent of the ultraviolet radiation from the sun to pass through to your skin. The higher the UPF, the less light reaches your skin.

#2 Sun Glasses

Choose wraparound sunglasses that fully cover the eye area and provide UVA and UVB protection. Remember that eyes and eyelids are very susceptible to sun rays.

#3 Sunscreen

The sun emits two types of radiation: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays contribute to the signs of aging in the skin, like wrinkles and sagging. UVB rays are more carcinogenic and often responsible for sunburns. UVA rays also make UVB rays more reactive, so combined, the two can be deadly.

 

SPF works by extending your skin’s natural defenses against the sun’s rays. For example, an SPF of 15 provides about 15 times more protection than just your normal skin without sunscreen. An SPF of 50, then, would provide 50 times more protection than skin without sunscreen. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen means it’s a type of sunscreen that will block out both UVA and UVB rays.

 

While wearing sunscreen is better than not wearing any, if you have a choice look for sunscreen having:

  1. Sun protection factor of 30 or more
  2. Broad-spectrum protection blocking UVB and UVA rays
  3. Contain blockers such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

 

Test the lotion on a small area of your body to check the sensitivity to your skin.

The Skin Foundation recommends that you use about one ounce of lotion to cover your body. Do not forget such areas as your ears, middle of your back, sides of your neck, between your toes, and your eyelids. Ideally, apply sunscreen to your skin 30 minutes before going out in the sun.

 

These recommendations apply to people of all skin tones.

#4 Stay in the shade

Sun rays are most dangerous between 10 am and 4 pm. Stay under a tree, an umbrella, or awing during these hours.

#5 Medications

Certain medications can cause reactions to the skin when exposed to sun rays. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that they will not impact you.

#6 Monitoring your body

Even with taking protection against the sun, it is critical to monitor your body for any skin changes in order to do this.

  1. Select a medical provider
  2. In conjunction with your medical provider establish a PERSONAL BODY CHART
  3. Even with taking proactive steps against damaging the sun, it is critical to regularly check your skin from head to toe for any signs of skin changes. Look out for unusual skin changes, or new moles: any asymmetrical moles that have an abnormal border, are irregularly colored, have a diameter larger than a pencil eraser, are changing color, size, and shape, becoming itchy, irritated, or bleeding should be noted. A procedure for monitoring your body is available by clicking HERE.
  4. Have your medical provider perform a full-body scan annually.

SUMMARY

Have fun in the sun! However, be prudent and take precautions against damaging UV rays. Regardless of your proactive action, it is critical to regularly check your skin from head to toe for any signs of skin changes. Look out for unusual or new moles, any asymmetrical moles that have an abnormal border, are irregularly colored, have a diameter large than a pencil eraser, are changing in color, size, and shape, becoming itchy, irritated, or bleeding.

 

Call your doctor if you are seeing any changes, Skin Cancer is very curable if detected and treated timely.