May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and at Theraderm Clinical Skin Care – we want to make sure you are informed! We know it’s easy when you’re having fun outdoors to forget how important it is to protect yourself from the sun. Believe it or not, unprotected skin can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
Proud of that deep, dark tan? Unfortunately, there’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk:
- A history of sunburns.
- Exposure to the sun through work and play.
- A lighter natural skin color.
- Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
- Blue or green eyes.
- Naturally blond or red hair.
- A personal history of skin cancer.
- A family history of melanoma.
How to Protect Yourself
Take precautions against sun exposure every day of the year, especially during midday hours (10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.), when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage. UV rays can reach you on cloudy days, and can reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.
- Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
- Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
- Put on sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
- Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. The UV rays from them can be stronger than UV rays from the summer sun at noon.
- Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays; they filter them.
- Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy in your car, bag, or child’s backpack.
- CHECK yourself and your family and make sure you have someone checking your hard-to-see areas.
Hopefully these tips will help keep you protected this summer!