Summer will soon be upon us, and for many, that means three months of spending as much time outdoors as possible before autumn rolls around again. While warm breezes and rejuvenating sunshine are beautiful things after a cold, dark winter, precautions should be taken while out in the sun. Because the unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before as “Don’t Fry Day” in an effort to remind us of the risks of skin cancer. The dangers of “frying” are quite real.
More time spent outdoors under the summer sun brings with it more exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the damage this can cause to our skin. UV radiation is the main cause of skin cancer, and cases of skin cancer have risen in the United States over the years. In fact, it is now the most common form of cancer in the U.S. For 2016, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 10,000 Americans will die from melanoma (a form of skin cancer), or about one death every hour.
Fortunately, there are ways to limit your exposure to UV radiation while still enjoying the sweet summer sun. Here are some things you can do to help yourself stay healthy:
-Don’t use tanning beds (and, frankly, avoid tanning altogether)
-Find shade, especially during times of highest UV risk (10am to 4pm)
-Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or more
-Wear protective clothing (e.g., long-sleeves, pants, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses)
-Remember that sand, snow, and water can reflect UV radiation, increasing your risk for exposure
-Pay attention to your area’s daily UV Index. Check yours here.
In addition to these valuable tips for keeping your skin healthy, take time at least once a month to examine your skin for new moles and any changes in existing moles. Either of these can be a sign of possible skin cancer—which thankfully is curable if detected early—so be sure to check regularly.
Now get out there, shake off winter’s drear, and have fun. But don’t forget to be careful too.