Keep Your Skin Safe in the Summer Sun
Northwestern Memorial Hospital June 14, 2012
CHICAGO, IL – Summer is in full swing allowing everyone to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Outdoor activities can provide great exercise, but too much time spent at the beach or park in the hot summer sun increases the risk of developing skin cancer if left unprotected.
Jill Weinstein, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Physician’s Group, says that it is imperative for people to protect themselves in the summer sun. “I’ve seen countless patients who dismissed sun dangers or believed ‘it won’t happen to me’ diagnosed with skin cancer due to sun exposure.” Weinstein recommends five ways to enjoy sun safely.
Know your ABCD’s
A change in size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole often indicates the first signs of melanoma, the most dangerous form of cancer. Keep a close eye on your body and remember “ABCD” when evaluating a mole for potentially dangerous characteristics.
Asymmetry, take note of moles where the shape of one half of the mole does not match the other.
Border, watch for moles where the edges are ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline.
Color, watch for moles where the color uneven, multiple colors or very dark brown or black.
Diameter, watch for a change in size, especially an increase.
Wear sunscreen daily
Only one in five people wear sunscreen on a daily basis, when it should be used every day. It is important to select a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Remember to reapply every two hours, sooner after swimming or excessively sweating, and to cover the entire body, including the ears, tops of the feet, and the scalp where it is parted for the best protection.
Before heading out in the sun, think about your wardrobe. Choose light natural fabric clothing that covers your skin. Fabrics like cotton will not only help provide protection but keep you cool and absorb sweat too. Look for clothing made of sun protective fabrics to provide an even better shield from harmful UV rays.
Get a tan without the sun
If you’re looking for a faster, safer way to get a summer glow, use sunless tanning creams, sprays, or mousses instead of risking overexposure. The active ingredient, dihyrdoxyacetone, is safe, but unless it contains SPF, it will not protect you from the sun.
Limit your exposure
Although it is tempting to spend all day in the summer sun, it’s important to remember to avoid exposure to the sun during peak hours. Avoid over exposure during the sun’s strongest hours, typically between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Taking simple, preventative steps to protect your skin from the sun’s rays will allow everyone to enjoy the outdoors safely this season,” said Weinstein.