Summertime means “fun in the sun.” But, while you’re outside being physically active, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays which can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes and increase risk of skin cancer.
Every year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, including 72,000 new cases and 9,000 deaths from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
In addition to the risk of skin cancer, the sun’s UV rays are also responsible for more than 90% of visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging, such as wrinkles, sagging, dryness, freckles, and dark blotches. The sun’s rays tend to suppress the skin’s immunity, making some people more prone to cold sores or other skin infections.
Fortunately, most skin cancers can be prevented.
Here are 5 sun safety tips to protect you and your family:
- Seek Shade – You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter, especially during midday hours.
- Wear Sun Protection Gear – Wear a hat, sunglasses and other protective clothes to shield skin. Hats should have a brim all the way around that shades face, ears, and the back of your neck. Sunglasses protect eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection.
- Use Sunscreen – Put on broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Apply about two heaping tablespoons of sunscreen to exposed skin and a nickel sized dollop to face. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. Remember, anyone, no matter their skin tone, can get skin cancer.
- Protect Yourself Daily – On a daily basis, you can protect yourself by using moisturizers, cosmetics, and lip balms that include sunscreen. Be sure the products you are using offer at least SPF 30.
- Remember to Reapply – Sunscreen wears off, so be sure to reapply every two hours, and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Keep in mind that “water-resistant” sunscreens are protective for either 40 or 80 minutes, so read labels carefully and reapply accordingly after swimming.
Dr. Miriam Pomeranz, is chief of Dermatology at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. She is a Associate Professor, Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology Chief, Dermatology Service, Bellevue Hospital. Chair of Dermatology Residency Selection Committee. She has Board Certifications American Board of Dermatology – Dermatology. Her education and Training Fellowship, NYU Medical Center, Dermatopharmacology, Residency, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dermatology and MD from University Of Pennsylvania.