Summer is here, but it’s important to take proper precautions before heading out to soak up some sun. According to the National Cancer Institute, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, with 2.2 percent of Americans diagnosed each year. Of these cases, two percent are an aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma. Studies from the Skin Cancer Foundation found that a person’s risk for developing melanoma doubles after experiencing more than five sunburns, making avoiding sunburn crucial to preventing skin cancer.
Though little can be done to reverse sun damage, proper protection can help dramatically decrease chances of skin cancer, specifically melanoma. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using sunscreen of at least 15 SPF when spending time in the sun, and increasing SPF and application frequency when spending longer periods outside.
Aside from sunscreen, protective wear such as wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and breathable clothing help to shield your skin from overexposure. The sun’s UV rays are the strongest and most harmful during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., particularly in the spring and summer months, so be sure to take preventative measures before spending a day outdoors.
If the sun does get the best of you, follow these after-care tips to help treat your burn.
- • Cool your skin by taking a cold shower, or by using wet cloths or ice as a cold compress.
- • Use unscented, topical moisturizers and ibuprofen to help decrease pain and skin irritation.
- • Drink extra liquids like water or sports drinks to rehydrate your body and help the skin heal faster.
If you find any unusual spots or growths on your skin it is highly recommended that you schedule a skin cancer consultation and screening with your doctor as soon as possible. Check back soon for more information on how to stay healthy this summer.