Chicago – Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer and for many, the beginning of summer fun in the sun. As the temperature heats up, people will flock to area beaches, golf courses and local parks to enjoy long summer days outdoors. While many outdoor activities promote exercise and good health, experts caution that too much time in the sun can significantly increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer if steps are not taken to prevent overexposure and protect the skin from harmful rays.
“I’ve seen countless patients who dismissed sun dangers or believed ‘it won’t happen to me’ diagnosed with skin cancer due to sun exposure,” said Jill Weinstein, MD, dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group. “It is imperative that people head warnings and take steps to protect themselves from the sun.” Weinstein recommends five ways to enjoy the sun safely.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Only one in five people wear sunscreen on a daily basis, when it should in fact be used every day. Select a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or excessive sweating for optimum protection. When applying sunscreen, don’t forget to cover the entire body, including the ears, tops of the feet and along the scalp where hair is parted.
Know Your ABCD’s
Often the first sign of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is a change in the size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole. Pay attention to your body and remember “ABCD.”
• Asymmetry, the shape of one half does not match the other.
• Border, the edges are often ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline.
• Color is uneven. Shades of black, brown and tan may be present.
• Diameter, there is a change in size, usually an increase.
Before heading out in the sun, pack a cover-up. Choose clothing that is made of cotton, comfortable, and cool. Be sure to cover your face and wear a hat, such as a baseball cap or a visor to provide the best protection.
Limit your exposure
Although it may be tempting to spend all day outdoors, it’s important to limit exposure to the sun’s intense rays. Avoid outdoor activities during the sun’s strongest hours, typically between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to protect your skin.
Get a tan from a bottle
If you are striving for a tan, consider using sunless tanning creams, sprays or mousses instead of risking overexposure. Be warned, these products will not give you protection from the sun unless there is SPF included, but the active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone, is safe for your skin.
“Taking simple, preventative steps to protect your skin from the sun’s rays will allow everyone to enjoy the sun safely this season,” said Weinstein.
For more information on how to maintain healthy skin this summer and year-round, visit www.nmpg.com or call (312) 926-0779.