It’s the beginning of summer and there are so many sun-filled days ahead- and that means plenty of opportunities to get sunburned if you’re not careful. Sun-damaged skin not only increases your risk of skin cancer down the road but also is a major factor in skin aging and, over periods of time, can increase wrinkles and compromise the immune system.
We’ve recently researched several experts on sun damage and skin cancer, and we’ve distilled their recommendations here so you can protect yourself.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 for incidental exposure, applying generously to all exposed areas at least 15 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Even on cloudy days, you should apply sunscreen before going outside. As UV rays are impossible to avoid all together, it is imperative that we understand the harmful effects of daily UV exposure and how we can protect ourselves.
- Apply, Re-apply, and repeat! Sunscreen should be applied very generously and re-applied every two hours according to label directions and as needed, especially after swimming or sweating to receive full sun protection. UVA and UVB rays, are responsible for causing skin aging and skin cancer. The sun emits a broad spectrum of electromagnetic energy waves that irradiate toward the earth. Avoiding UV rays is impossible but there are steps we can take to reduce negative effects of the sun, including aging. Studies show that many people do not use sunscreens properly, either because they do not apply enough product or they do not reapply frequently.
- Check the expiration date and DO NOT USE sunscreen that has expired because the ingredients can lose their effectiveness and decrease your protection.
- Wear protective clothing when possible, including a hat that covers your neck and face, and sunglasses with UV protection. Also, protect children’s skin with sunscreen, clothing, and limited sun exposure. Many studies show that overexposure before the age of 20 may increase the chances of skin cancer later in life.
- Get Checked and don’t delay if you see something unusual. Melanoma can be a fast-growing cancer. Remember cancer does not discriminate and it’s no longer just a concern for the “fair skinned.” No matter your skin type, color, or heritage, if you notice something on your skin that is changing, get it looked at immediately! Get your doctor to check for melanoma, regardless of your skin color or your primary reason for visiting.
We all enjoy being out in the sun and, by properly applying sunscreen and protecting your skin, you can keep yourself healthy and looking infinitely more youthful.