The summer months are upon us! Be sure to play it safe this summer and protect yourself against sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer by practicing these sun safety tips:
- Avoid peak sun times: Ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their greatest level between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use sunscreen: To avoid sunburn, apply a generous amount of sunscreen to dry skin at least 15 minutes BEFORE going outside. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection. Remember to reapply at least every two hours, or more frequently if you’re in and out of water or sweating heavily.
- Wear sunglasses, hats and protective clothing: Did you know that your eyes can be sunburned? Sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Protect your face, ears, head and neck this summer by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Dry, dark-colored clothing offer more protection from the sun than wet, light-colored clothing.
- Seek shade: It is best to seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are. Get under an umbrella, tree or other shelter to stay cool and reduce your risk of skin damage.
- If you’re taking prescription medications, know the potential sun exposure risks: Sun-sensitizing medications, including some antibiotics, diuretics and cholesterol medications, can cause you to burn quicker and make existing skin conditions worse. When taking these medications, be sure to use a high SPF sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and stay in the shade as much as possible. As always, be sure to read your medication’s instructions and side effects or consult your pharmacist or physician to learn if anything you are taking causes sun sensitivity.
- Spot-check moles and freckles: Too much sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. Use the ABCDE rule below to perform regular skin self-exams. Check your entire body, using a hand-held mirror if needed, and include areas that have had little or no sun exposure.
A: Asymmetry, where one half of the mole or freckle does not match the other
B: Border irregularity
C: Color that is not uniform
D: Diameter greater than 6 mm, or the size of a pencil eraser
E: Evolving size, shape, or color
If you find any of the irregularities listed above, make an appointment with your Primary Care Provider (PCP) or dermatologist. Many Primary Care Providers will conduct a preventive skin check as part of your routine preventive wellness visit, if asked.
Think you’re ready for summer? Click here to test your sun safety IQ.
Interested in learning more about how to prevent and detect skin cancer? Visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org for more information.