With spring bringing us more hours of fun-in-the-sun activities, make sure to protect your skin while enjoying the beautiful outdoors. The most common cancer in the United States is skin cancer with millions of people being diagnosed every year. The good news is that skins cancers that are found early are almost always curable. With May being Skin Cancer Prevention Month, the following tips can help guard skin against the damaging effects of too much sun exposure and help reduce the risk.
· Apply sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all skin not covered by clothing. Make sure to reapply every 2 hours after sweating, swimming or toweling off. Even cloudy days can bring us excess sun exposure. Apply sunscreen not only to your body, but also to exposed feet, ears and neck. Don’t forget the children! Their skin needs protection whenever outdoors.
· Be cautious of the strong rays. The strongest rays of the sun are between 10 AM and 2 PM. Stay in the shade whenever possible during those times.
· Protect your skin by wearing clothes. Clothing can be your best defense. Wear long-sleeved shirts pants, hats and sunglasses.
· Don’t seek the sun for your Vitamin D. Eat foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D or take supplements.
· Use a self-tanner. If you want to look tan, there are many self-tanners out there that can do the job safely. Don’t use tanning beds. UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling and age spots. They can also lead to an increased risk for melanoma and other forms of skin cancers.
· Watch out for water and sand. They can reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
· Keep babies out of the sun. Those sweet little babies have especially vulnerable skin, so keep them out of the sun. Babies over six months need regular applications of sunscreen. Discuss what is best with your pediatrician.
· Do a skin check for signs of skin cancer. Check your skin, know your moles. If anything looks suspicious or moles are changing or growing, have your doctor take a look. To find out how to perform self-examination, visit www.skincancer.org/selfexamination.