Summer Sun Safety

Summer Sun Safety

It’s no secret that sun exposure can put your skin, health, and even your life at risk. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck hiding indoors all summer. Instead, the right planning and preparation can get you outside to enjoy the weather without causing any harm.

Juan-Carlos Caballero, MD, offers skin cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment services at Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center in Warrenton, Virginia. He recommends following these simple rules to protect your skin this summer and all year long.

1. Slather on the sunscreen

Sunscreen should always be your first line of defense for sun safety, even on cloudy or winter days. However, not all sunscreens provide the same protection.

The danger of sun exposure comes from ultraviolet radiation, specifically ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). When exposed to UVA rays, your skin can suffer long-term damage and premature aging. UVB rays cause sunburn.

While UVA and UVB rays can cause different types of damage, exposure to both of these types of radiation increases your chance of developing skin cancer, a condition that 1 in 5 Americans develops by age 70

To properly protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays, it’s essential to purchase sunscreen products labeled “broad-spectrum.” This distinction indicates that you’re picking a product that can help protect against both forms of ultraviolet rays. 

Always opt for sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. However, if you plan to spend a long time outdoors, choose a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 30 or higher.

2. Cover up

We know that nothing compares to the feeling of the hot summer sun on your skin, especially after a long winter. However, limiting your sun exposure by wearing hats and protective clothing will do your skin a favor in the long run.

The good news is that protective clothing has come a long way, offering breathable, high-tech protection that covers delicate skin while keeping you cool at the same time. 

When looking for the best protective gear, choose options labeled “UPF” — or ultraviolet protection factor. Clothes with this label can protect sensitive skin all over your body, including the skin on your arms and legs.

You should also protect areas of your body at high risk of developing skin cancer, such as your ears, face, and neck, with a wide-brimmed hat. And remember to grab your UV-blocking sunglasses before walking out the door so you can protect your eyes, too.

3. Plan right

Did you know that some times of day are more dangerous for UV rays than others? This is often between 10am-4pm, and UV rays are typically at their highest during late spring and early summer for areas in North America.

If you can, try to avoid being in the sun during peak times. However, if you can’t, protect your skin by staying in the shade, covering up, and wearing plenty of broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Dr. Caballero also recommends checking your skin for changes often. Common signs of a problem include:

You should also plan on seeing a skilled dermatologist, such as Dr. Caballero, for professional skin cancer checks on a regular basis.

4. Don’t get burned

It’s true that accidents happen. But you should do everything in your power to ensure that it doesn’t include a sunburn.

If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you know it can come with significant pain and itching. However, every time you get burned, you have a visual sign of DNA damage within your skin cells. Over time, this very damage can turn into skin cancer.

And if you’re tempted to get the perfect tan in a tanning bed, we’ve got more bad news for you. Unfortunately, this approach to getting a “healthy” glow actually increases your chances of developing skin cancer. Worse yet? Using a tanning bed before age 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma — the most dangerous type of skin cancer — by 75%.

Instead, take these steps to protect your skin cells from irreversible damage by slathering on the sunscreen, covering up, and trying to avoid peak times of high-intensity UV rays. If you follow these simple rules, your skin will thank you for it!

To learn more about skin cancer prevention or detection, call 540-212-7081 or request an appointment online with Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center today.

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