Summertime Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer and Other Sun-Related Skin Issues

Is working on your tan high on your list during summer vacation? It’s time to rethink what a tan means for the health of your skin. Skin cancer is one of the leading types of cancer, with more than 9,500 people diagnosed every day in the United States. 

Skin cancer is directly caused by the sun. The sun emits UV radiation that damages your skin cells, leading to cancer, sunburn, wrinkles, and more. This summer, make skin protection your priority. From hanging out in the shade or under a pool umbrella to adding a self-examination to your routine, there are many things you can do to prevent the onset of skin cancer.

Yearly skin examinations by a dermatologist can help you find and address sun-related skin issues. Now that summer is here, Samuel J. Pruden, MD, FACS, FAAD, and the team at SkinMD in Lexington, Kentucky, share the best tips for keeping your skin healthy. 

Cover up and wear sunscreen

The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to stay out of the sun whenever possible. The sun’s rays are the strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm, so it’s a good idea to seek the shade during the middle of the day if you have to be outdoors.

Prevent sunburn by wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. Broad spectrum sunscreens block UVA and UVB rays. You should apply sunscreen even on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours if you’re sweating a lot.

Most adults don’t wear enough sunscreen or apply it regularly — you need about 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your whole body. Children over 6 months should wear sunscreen whenever they’re outside, and you should keep newborns out of the sun. 

For days that you or your children are spending time in the sun, wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants to further protect your skin. Wear a hat and sunglasses to help protect your face and eyes, too. 

Guard your skin from more than skin cancer

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays helps reduce your risk of skin cancer, but it also helps prevent a number of other sun-related skin conditions. Some conditions can lead to skin cancer, but some are noncancerous. The most well-known of these conditions is sunburn.

Sunburn

Sunburn occurs when you spend too much time in the sun without adequate protection. The surface of your skin burns and becomes red and irritated. Serious sunburns can cause swelling and blisters and even can be accompanied by symptoms like chills, nausea, and headaches. 

As a sunburn heals, your skin peels and itches. This is your body trying to get rid of the cells that the sun damaged. People of all skin tones and colors can get sunburns and damaged skin cells from sun exposure.

Actinic keratosis

Exposure to the sun over the years can cause actinic keratosis, or precancer. This condition appears as scaly, rough spots on your skin that can develop into skin cancer later on. 

Photoaging

Sun damage is also one of the biggest contributors to the signs of aging, from wrinkles to age spots. Called photoaging, sun damage can cause your skin to discolor and develop brown patches. People who spend a lot of time in the sun are prone to premature wrinkles and loose, sagging skin.

Visit the dermatologist

You should regularly examine your skin for signs of skin cancer and make a note of new spots or changes in your skin. The best way to make sure you don’t have skin cancer — or to catch signs of cancer early — is to have yearly skin examinations at the dermatologist’s office.

Dr. Pruden offers professional skin exams to help patients prevent skin cancer. He talks with you about your lifestyle and medical history and performs a full exam of your skin. If you show signs of skin cancer, additional testing can confirm your diagnosis and he can develop an appropriate treatment plan. 

You can take steps this summer to help prevent skin cancer for yourself and your loved ones. To make a dermatology appointment with Dr. Pruden, call the office today

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