By: Gus Gonzalez, MD, Hematology/Oncology
The next time you think about going to a tanning salon or opting against sunscreen, consider this: Skin cancer accounts for half of all cancers in the United States, with more than 68,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2010. Understanding the seriousness of this form of cancer, however, will encourage you to practice good skin care habits, reducing your risk of developing skin cancer.
Shade. If you can, try to seek the shade whenever possible, staying under a shelter, tree, or umbrella. Also try to avoid the sun between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun is brightest and will be most likely to result in damage.
Sunscreen. Make sure that your sunscreen is SPF 15 or higher, with protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours or after you go swimming or perform any activity that causes you to sweat. Make sure that if any cosmetics you wear don’t have an SPF of at least 15, you wear sunscreen or lip balm to provide extra protection.
Clothing. Loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide the best protection from the sun. Dark clothing also provides more protection than light. Clearly this type of clothing is impractical for a day at the pool or lake. Under those circumstances, use a T-shirt or cover-up to protect more of your skin from the sun’s rays.
Hats. Try to wear tightly woven hats with brims all the way around to protect your ears and the back of your neck, in addition to your face. If you are wearing a baseball cap, don’t forget to use sunscreen on your neck and ears to avoid burning.
Sunglasses. Your sunglasses should have both UVA and UVB protection. Sunglasses that wrap all the way around your head provide the best protection for your eyes.