It’s finally summer in Washington! This means the sun is beginning to peek around the clouds to give us bright and sunny days. But with the extra sunshine, you may be more at risk for skin diseases caused by the sun. We’ve compiled expert tips from Cancer.net, Cancer.org, and Skincancer.org on how you can protect yourself and your family this summer (and everyday!).
Sunscreen is a must-have
While it may seem silly or unnecessary on cloudy, rainy days in Washington, experts say sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine. UV rays can still damage your skin, clouds or not, so it’s important to wear sunscreen every day.
Just wearing any old sunscreen isn’t enough. In order to have the best protection from sun damage your sunscreen:
- Should be broad-spectrum and protect against UVA and UVB radiation
- Be water resistant
- Have an SPF of 30 or higher
- Be applied 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside
- Be reapplied every 2 hours
- Not be expired
It’s a long list, but each of these qualifications go a long way in protecting your skin.
Limit the time you have fun in the sun
We know, it’s so tempting to rush outside every time the weather gets about sixty degrees and sun tan. But there’s one super easy way to make sure the sun doesn’t burn you – stay out of it!
The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 am and 4 pm, so be extra careful during this window. Make sure to lather up in sunscreen and stay in the shade when possible. A good rule of thumb is taking a peak at your shadow. If your shadow is short and close to you, seek shade.
Take extra care when you’re at the beach, in the water or anywhere near reflective surfaces. The sun is still very dangerous, even when reflected.
Wearing protective clothing is in
It may seem like you’re going back to the Victorian era wearing long sleeves and tightknit fabrics to the beach. But it’s actually very 2020 of you to protect your skin.
The best way to stay protected is by wearing black or dark clothing that fights off the sun’s rays. To be super safe, pair that with clothing that keeps you covered from head to toe.
If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, the American Cancer Society says to “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap”:
- Slip on a shirt when you’re out in the sun
- Slop sunscreen over your body
- Slap on a hat to protect your face and neck and
- Wrap sunglasses around your face to help your eyes and the skin around your eyes stay safe.
Keep your Kids Covered
Did you know – children are much more susceptible to sun damage than adults. Because kids are outside more, can burn more easily and may be unaware of the dangers the sun, they’re much more likely to receive sun damage . To ensure your kids are properly prepared to enjoy the sunshine, make sure they’re wearing sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.
For babies younger than six months, they should stay out of direct sunlight altogether and wear hats and protective clothing. You can use sunscreen on small areas of baby’s skin, but only in conjuncture with keeping babies in shaded areas and wearing protective clothing.
Babylist.com has an excellent list of baby sunscreens they recommend (which can also be used for those with sensitive skin).
Avoid tanning beds & sun lamps
While it may seem safer than laying outside, using tanning beds and sun lamps can still cause damage to your skin. Most tanning lamps give out UVA and UVB rays which can wrinkle and age skin prematurely and can contribute to skin cancer. If you’re looking for an artificial sun glow, we recommend using tanning lotions or spray tan, as they’re better for your skin long term.
Be aware of medication side-effects
Something you may not realize is your medications may cause you to be more at risk for sun damage. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-fungals, blood pressure medications and some types of chemotherapy weaken your body’s natural defense against the sun, so be extra cautious when soaking up some Vitamin D.
At Sound Family Medicine, we want to help you stay healthy and happy and hope these tips helped you prepare for fun in the sun. Whether it’s questions about safely enjoying the sunshine or a mole that doesn’t seem to look quite right, please feel free to reach out to your provider who would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have.