Summer is finally under way, and you may be looking forward to getting outside more often to get the seasonal “glow” of a tan. While sunlight is essential for vitamin D production, prolonged exposure can be dangerous, and, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there is no such thing as a healthy tan!
Any tanning that results from UV rays—whether outdoors or indoors—increases your chance of developing skin cancer, as well as damages your skin cells and speeds up aging. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. More than 3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States—that’s more than all other cancers combined! Before you head outside, make sure to protect your skin with the help of these tips.
- Avoid purposeful tanning. Spending the day at the pool or beach? Load up on sunscreen and avoid just laying out in the direct sun. Avoid tanning beds, period.
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply at least every 2 hours
- Wear sunglasses with total UV protection
- Stay in the shade as much as possible. Avoid direct exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours, between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats that cover and protect areas like your head, neck, face and ears
- Wear clothing made of tightly woven fabrics that are bright colors
- If you already have sunburn, stay inside until it heals. If you have to go out, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to prevent further skin damage.
If you notice any suspicious spots on your skin or feel uncomfortable with the way a mole is changing, it is important to talk to your doctor. In fact, you should see a dermatologist once a year for a skin check, or more often if recommended based on your family and medical history.
American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-skin-cancer
Skin Cancer Foundation. https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/tanning/