Be Sun Smart: Protect Your Skin from UV Rays
Although the sunny summer weather invites most folks to spend more time outdoors, it also can lead the way for higher exposure to harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are the main cause of skin cells turning into cancer.
UV radiation is made up of UVA and UVB rays which can cause damage to the cells in the top layer of your skin called the epidermis. UVA causes aging, age spots, eye injury and cataracts and genetic damage to your skin, while UVB is also responsible for sunburns, a risk factor for melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined.
“It's okay to have fun in the sun, as long as you are being sun smart,” says PIH Health Dermatologist, Lubomira Scherschun MD. “As the weather heats up, protecting your skin from UV exposure is more important than ever. So before you even make your way to the beach, remember to take steps to keep your skin safe.”
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer, sunburn, and premature skin aging by using the following tips to best protect your skin this summer:
Choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant and SPF 30 or higher for everyday use, even on cloudy days when UV levels can still be high. Broad-spectrum coverage protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every 8 minutes and, if swimming, follow the directions on the bottle.
Cover Up with Protective Clothing
Opt for clothes that provide different levels of UV protection such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts. Remember, if you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.
Stay in the Shade
Having a beach umbrella or tent is useful, in combination with good clothing and sunscreen. Shade from building or overhang are also effective sun protection.
Wear a Hat and Sunglasses
Wearing a hat is a simple way to protect your eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. A broad-rimmed hat that covers ears and your neck is preferred. Wear glasses to protect your eyes as well as the sensitive skin around them.
Know Your Risk
The more sun safety awareness you have, the better you can protect yourself. While skin cancer can affect anyone, certain factors can increase your risk. Depending on your sensitivity to the sun, you could have a higher risk for melanoma if you:
- Have lighter skin
- Have multiple moles or atypical moles (large moles that have irregular color and shape)
- A family history of melanoma or you had melanoma in the past
- A history of blistering sunburns
If you are at a greater risk for skin cancer, you should be extra vigilant with protecting your skin. It is important to see your primary care doctor or a dermatologist. Your doctor can perform a skin cancer screening and evaluate if you need further treatment.
The PIH Health Dermatology, Aesthetics & Mohs Surgery Center provides a full spectrum of general dermatological services, including medical, surgical and laser procedures as well as aesthetic and cosmetic treatments. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 562.789.5429 or 562.967.2851.