As summer quickly approaches and we get back to a new sense of normalcy, many Texans are spending more time outdoors. With pool time and lazy days at the lake or beach comes a silent problem; skin damage from excessive sun exposure.
For Skin Cancer Awareness month, we want to take a closer look at the effects the sun has on our skin and ways we can protect ourselves.
How the sun affects our skin
The sun gives off rays of light, known as ultraviolet (UV) rays, that both benefit and harm us. Some benefits include the Vitamin D it supplies as well as the boost in the overall mood it provides. Excessive sun exposure, on the other hand, negatively impacts our skin by causing premature aging, skin cell damage, and even skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most preventable type of cancer, but many of us don’t practice safe sun habits which increases risk.
Tips for reducing your skin cancer risk
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Dermatologists recommend that anytime you’re outdoors, you apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreens should also be reapplied at least every 2 hours, especially if you’re spending time in the water or sweating.
This goes along with using sunscreen and dermatologists say that a person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if you’ve had five or more sunburns at any point in your life.
Cover up with clothing if you can.
We all know about the dreaded “farmers-tan”, but this goes to show just how effective clothing is at preventing sunburn. If you’re able to, cover up with clothing including sunglasses, a broad-brimmed hat as well as a shirt and pants.
Avoid tanning beds.
Those who use indoor tanning beds are up to 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who never tanned indoors. The more time a person has spent using tanning beds, the higher their risk of skin cancer. Dermatologists say to avoid tanning beds altogether. The risk isn’t worth it.
See your physician every year for a skin exam.
It’s important to make sure you get your skin examined by a dermatologist every year. This allows any suspicious spots to be examined and if required, removed, and treated. The good news? Annual skin exams are typically covered by insurance.
By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that you are protected from the harmful rays of the sun, while still enjoying your time outdoors. For more information on skin cancer, skin cancer screenings and treatments, visit texasdls.com.