As temperatures start to rise during the summer and you spend more time outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Harmful conditions like sunburns are common, but extended exposure to the sun is the primary cause of over 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States.
Skin cancer is both dangerous and common. It is the most diagnosed cancer in Canada, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Even more startling, each year around 1,500 Canadians will die from it. Though basking in the sun is relaxing and fun, it is also dangerous for your health. To protect the skin you are in, consider the following skin protection tips.
Skin Protection Tips
- Take extra care before going out in the sun if your family has a history of skin cancer.
- Try to stay out of the sun when your shadow is shorter that you are, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. During these times the sun is directly overhead, allowing more UV rays to reach your skin.
- Wear clothing that blocks UV rays, such as hats, sunglasses and tightly knit, lightly colored clothing.
- Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin before you go outside. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is best, but using a broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both types of UV rays.
- Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, as needed. If you’re at a high altitude, in a humid environment, sweating or swimming, you may need to reapply sunscreen more frequently.
- Monitor children who are outdoors in the sun. Experts believe that about 80 percent of an average person’s total sun exposure takes places before the age of 18.
Avoiding excessive sun exposure is ultimately the best way to protect your body from skin cancer. If you must go in the sun, routinely inspect your body for any changes such as a new freckle or enlarged mole. If you suspect that a spot on your skin is new or has changed in appearance, consult a dermatologist immediately.