Summer is right around the corner, and with the changing season comes beach days, barbecues, swimming pools, flip-flops and lots of time in the sun!
Being outside enjoying the warm weather is one of the best parts of this season. If you don’t protect your skin from the sun, though, you may end up getting burned and feeling miserable while everyone else is having fun.
Besides any immediate discomfort a sunburn causes, overexposure to the sun can cause irreversible skin damage. This includes leathery skin, dark spots and wrinkles. It also increases your chances of developing skin cancer — the most common cancer worldwide, according to the American Cancer Society®. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.1
So how do you prevent sunburn, reduce skin damage and avoid skin cancer? Here are some tips for protecting your skin this summer and all year round:
The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun are what damage skin. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy outside, it’s important to protect your skin from these UV rays. One way to do this is by wearing sunscreen.
Make sure the label says "broad spectrum," which means it helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Stick to an SPF of 30 or higher for the most protection. And don’t forget to check the expiration date!
Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply after you’ve been swimming or if you’ve been sweating.
Put on a hat.
Wearing a hat with at least a 2-inch or 3-inch brim keeps the sun off your face, and it shades your eyes, too. Also consider covering the rest of your body with protective clothing. This type of clothing provides consistent coverage and won’t wear off like sunscreen eventually will.
Ward off the sun’s glare all year long to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them by wearing sunglasses. Paying a little bit more for a pair that blocks UV rays may seem unnecessary, but in reality provides real benefit to your skin. Sunglasses with oversized frames are best at protecting the skin around the eyes.
Deliberately exposing yourself to the sun for an extended period of time is never a good idea, even if you’re wearing sunscreen. You’ll be much happier (and cooler) if you stay in the shade, under a tree or beach umbrella. Keep in mind, though, that some of the sun’s UV rays still get through even when you’re in the shade, so don’t skip the sunscreen.
Avoid the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
That’s when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Even if you’re just walking the dog or running errands, try to stay out of the sun during these peak hours as much as possible.
Skip the tanning bed.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, just one indoor tanning bed session in your lifetime can increase your chance of developing skin cancer by a whopping 20%.2 If that sun-kissed glow is important to you, use a self-tanning body lotion.
Protect against other types of burns, too.
It’s not just the sun that can damage your skin. You should also take steps to protect yourself from accidental burns, too. Here are some examples:
- If you park your car in a sunny spot, cover the car seat and steering wheel so they stay cooler to the touch.
- Wear flip-flops when crossing the hot sand at the beach or when walking around the pool’s edge.
- Stay away from hot BBQ grills and use sturdy oven mitts to open the grill and while flipping the food.
Check your skin often.
Perform self-exams every month or so. Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- New spots
- Changes to existing spots
- Anything else that looks suspicious
You should also see a dermatologist yearly for a full skin exam. Call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) or request an appointment today.