When the weather is warm, many people take time to relax at the beach or poolside. While such relaxation can provide a welcome break from busy schedules, it’s important that men, women and children prioritize protecting their skin when spending time in the sun.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, is the most common form of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that each year there are more new cases of skin cancer in the United States than the combined incidences of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. Despite that prevalence, many people still engage in risky behaviors in the name of outdoor enjoyment. Being safe in the sun won’t take anything away from enjoyable outdoor activities, but exercising such caution will help summer revelers reduce their risk for skin cancer and other conditions.
Know the risks of UV exposure. Sunlight is needed to engage vitamin D production in the body, but too much sun exposure can do more harm than good. Ultraviolet, or UV, rays from the sun and other sources, such as tanning beds, are the primary cause of skin cancer. Exposure also can lead to sunburns, premature aging/wrinkling and eye damage.
Use only broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen. Look for a sunblock product that boasts an SPF of at least 30. The FDA requires any sunscreen with an SPF below 15 to carry a warning that it only protects against sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging. Find a sunscreen that works against UVA and UVB rays as well. UVA rays are mostly responsible for contributing to skin cancer and premature aging. Reapply frequently, especially when swimming or engaging in activities that cause sweating.
Know the difference between water-resistant and waterproof sunscreens. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to claim that their sunscreens are waterproof or sweatproof. A sunscreen may be able to repel water for a short time, but it should be reapplied when leaving the water or when spending long stretches in the water.
Cover up whenever possible. It may seem counterintuitive in hot weather, but covering up can be beneficial to the skin and actually keep a person cooler. Wear wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeve tops and light-colored pants. Some materials are made with reflective properties, while others actually boast their own SPF.
Summer fun does not need to be threatened by overexposure to the sun. By exercising caution, everyone can spend quality time in the great outdoors all summer long.