Being active outdoors is an important part of a healthy lifestyle; getting regular exercise and fresh air help to keep us all healthy. While it’s important to make a move and get outside regularly, it’s also important to protect ourselves from the sun before we head outdoors.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States caused by Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, but UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. There are many simple ways we can protect ourselves from the sun.
How to Reduce Your Risk:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Don’t get sunburned.
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.
Even if you have carefully practiced sun safety all summer, it’s important to continue being vigilant about your skin in fall, winter, and beyond. Throughout the year, you should examine your skin head to toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, when the odds of curing them completely are high.