By: McKenna Wilson, LRD Intern
The summer brings some of the most beautiful days of the year. It’s a perfect time to take the day off, grill outside, and enjoy the sunshine with family and friends. Unfortunately, summer also brings harsh UV rays from the sun that burn our skin and put us at an increased risk for skin cancer.
Extensive exposure to sunlight is the most common source of UV ray damage, but tanning beds and heat lamps can also produce harmful light. Indoor tanning concentrates harmful UV rays in a short time, making this activity especially dangerous. Tanning, indoor or outdoor, bombards the skin with UV rays that cause DNA damage that can lead to an increase in cell growth, resulting in skin cancer.
How often do you get a bad sunburn? Sunburns are visible examples of DNA damage on our skin. If you frequently get sunburns, you may be tripling your risk of developing a melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer). Your skin doesn’t have to have sweltering blisters to feel the full effects of the UV rays. If your skin is pink or red, it is still considered sunburnt.
But don’t cancel your beach plans just yet! There are many ways that you can protect your skin from UV rays. It’s still important to get outside, especially because the warm summer months provide us with many different opportunities to be active. Follow these easy tips from the American Cancer Society for the best ways to protect our skin:
- Avoid prolonged direct sunlight exposure, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Use tightly knit clothing to protect your skin from the sun.
- Use the right sunscreen for your skin type. Make sure that you use a sunscreen that is broad spectrum and SPF 30 or higher. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours!
- Wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps at all costs!
Summer can be the most fun time of the year, but it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. Skin cancer can be summer’s greatest threat. However, studies show that 8 out of 10 melanomas can be prevented with safe sun practices. Part of these practices include regular self-exams, looking for the ABCDE’s of skin cancer. Checking your skin for abnormalities is the greatest tool we have for early detection of melanomas.
So, if you’re enjoying the beautiful weather this summer, make sure you take all of the steps to protect your skin. Show your skin some love by choosing shade and sunscreen.
“How the Sun and UV Cause Cancer.” Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK, 22 June 2017. Web. 05 July 2017.
“What Is Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation?” American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.