As the weather heats up, you’re probably getting excited to head outside and enjoy the warmth. But with the beautiful sunshine comes caution: You can’t overlook the danger and damaging aspects of UV rays that come from the sun.
Heather Foley, NP, a nurse practitioner at UHS Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Sun Safety Champion with Broome County’s Cancer Prevention in Action program, explains that protecting yourself from the sun is important because too much sun can lead to melanoma, or skin cancer. In fact, one in five individuals will end up with skin cancer in his or her lifetime. “UVA and UVB exposure from the sun is the primary cause of melanoma,” she says. To help reduce your risk of skin cancer, here are some things to consider if you’ll be out and about this summer:
Time it right.
The hottest part of the day is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so limit your hours in the sun during that time frame.
Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen, about 15 to 20 minutes before you go outside. Then reapply every two hours. Use SPF 30 or higher. Remember, if you go swimming, sunscreen is not waterproof. Reapply after getting out of the water.
Keep a cap on.
People often overlook protecting the head and face when enjoying the sun. “Especially with men, noses, top of the head and ears are places we often find melanoma. So, wear a wide-brimmed hat, at least 3 inches deep, to protect from UV rays,” says Ms. Foley.
Eyewear is important.
Especially for people with light-colored eyes, melanoma can form in your eyes. Make sure your sunglasses block UV rays. Darker-tinted sunglasses are even better if you’re at the beach, because reflection off the water can amplify sun rays.
Consider your clothing.
Make sure to wear long sleeves to protect against the sun. SPF clothing is also available, which helps protect against UV rays.
Find some shade.
Make sure you have access to an area with shade in order to give yourself a break from the beating heat.
Even with these protection measures, you may still be at risk for sun-related illnesses. Ms. Foley advises seeing a professional every year to make sure your skin is healthy.
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