Temperatures are heating up and it’s the perfect time to head outdoors with friends and family. Thousands of people will spend their spring and summer vacations by the pool or at the beach and what many often forget is the importance of sun safety.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, millions of people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. It’s the most common form of cancer in the United States and fortunately it’s the most preventable. Here are some tips to keep you safe:
Seek the Shade
Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when it is the strongest. A fun little trick to keep in mind is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer than you are, UV radiation is less intense.
Your risk for melanoma doubles if you have had five or more sunburns at any time in your life. Seek help from your doctor immediately if you experience severe burns.
Use broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen
It’s recommended you use an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, make sure to use water resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection so cover up with a wide brimmed hat and densely woven fabrics. Look for sun protective or sun-safe clothing!
Apply and Reapply
Approximately 30 minutes before hitting the sunshine, make sure to apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming/sweating.
Make sure to check yourself from head to toe every month. This will help you detect the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see your doctor immediately. It's recommended to have a physician do an annual skin check if there are any concerning skin changes or patient concerns.
By: D.D. Raj Bendre, MD, Medical Director
Physician Partners - Radiation Oncology Specialists