The summer is over. Daylight seems to be fading earlier and earlier by the day. Long gone are the days of hitting the beach and playing outside in tank-tops and shorts.
A question I often get from patients is: “Do we need to continue to apply sun protection?” Why do we need to and what does this truly mean? Even though the summer is over, the sun’s damaging rays still pass through the clouds. Skin cancer is increasing at an alarming rate in America – and sun protection is often ignored or under-utilized by most people. We need to protect ourselves starting at a young age in hopes of preventing skin cancer and premature aging.
Here are my tips for skin cancer awareness and the importance of maintaining sun-safety even in the fall and winter:
- When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30.
- Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head.
- Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Protect your skin with clothing. When going outside wear a long‐sleeved shirt, pants, a wide‐brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use extra caution near water, sand or snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
Get vitamin D safely: eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.