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

With the sunny days of summer upon us, it’s a good time to remember that, as good as it feels, too much sun exposure risks a range of ill effects on your skin, from premature aging to cancer. In fact, skin cancer is the most common form of the disease in the United States. 

The good news is that many of these sun-related issues can be prevented or managed with reasonable care. Here are some points to keep in mind as you engage in sun-filled summer activities.

Vitamin D and sunlight

There’s much about sunlight that’s beneficial to your health. It’s an essential part of the process that manufactures vitamin D, perhaps a contributor to that feeling of craving the warm sun on your skin. Your body can’t absorb enough vitamin D from your diet, so unless you’re taking supplements, sun exposure is essential.

However, it’s very easy to get too much of this good thing. Your vitamin D supply is recharged with about half the amount of sun exposure needed to burn, for most people. It’s an efficient process, using the ultraviolet B rays of sunlight. While ultraviolet rays — both A and B — are also the component of sunlight that cause cancer, you don’t need to risk burning to get enough vitamin D.

Sun and shade

It’s natural, through the hottest hours of the day, to seek shade and perhaps a cooling breeze. This tendency has a sound basis in skin protection science. Your risk of UV exposure happens to be greatest when the sun is highest. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends observing 10am-4pm as prime time for shade. Simply planning your sunlit activities outside of this window keeps your skin away from the heaviest risks. Don’t forget to bump those times to 9am-3pm during months of standard time.

Cover up

Of course, you can’t suspend living for six hours a day, so it’s inevitable you’ll need to venture into the sun during peak exposure hours. That’s OK, if you’re already maximizing your shade. However, you still need to remain vigilant. You don’t count on time spent in the sun when you bump into a friend. Even a 15-minute chat could be enough if you’re not protected.

Long-sleeved shirts, long skirts or pants, beach wraps and sunglasses all help you stylishly protect your skin. Choose your summer wardrobe with sun protection on the list of priorities. Being safe doesn’t mean you need to swelter. 

And of course, using sun protection factor (SPF) skin products is de rigueur. Dedicated SPF sunscreens are always available, and many skin cream and makeup products now include SPF protection as well. Plan your UV armor.

It all adds up

The effects of sun exposure are cumulative. Even if you’re vigilant about sun protection today, you don’t earn a free pass tomorrow. You may not develop skin cancer, but your skin can still lose moisture, develop fine lines or patches of discoloration and, in general, lose its youthful vitality more quickly.

As well, UV rays are not the only cause of skin cancers, so avoiding sunlight or tanning salons doesn’t eliminate the risk completely. Should you develop suspicious spots or discolorations on your face and neck, call Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates to schedule a skin exam with one of their specialists. The joys of summer can be yours, worry-free, for years to come.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Why Do I Lose My Voice Easily?

Losing your voice can be a disconcerting feeling, when you open your mouth and nothing comes out except a breathy rasp of a sound that barely carries your words. Chronic or recurrent dysphonia points to problems other than respiratory infections.

How Do I Know if My Thyroid Isn't Functioning Properly?

Problems with the thyroid gland start when it either over- or under-produces its native hormones. The resulting symptoms depend on which side of the disorder you experience. However, it’s sometimes hard to trace symptoms back to the thyroid.

Signs of Skin Cancer

While skin cancers can develop virtually anywhere on your body, those on your face and neck may be the most visible, and since these areas commonly receive sun exposure, they may be more vulnerable to the changes caused by ultraviolet light.

What You May Not Know About Hearing Aids

Wearing hearing aids once meant a bulky box worn on a belt connected to an earphone. Today, tiny devices fit in or behind your ears that connect wirelessly to smartphones and sound systems. There’s lots you may not know about today’s hearing aids.

Causes of Chronic Sinusitis

It’s common at some point through the winter to deal with sinusitis and its symptoms of runny nose, postnasal drip, and congestion. It’s common, that is, when it goes away in 7-10 days. When it lasts three months or more, it’s chronic sinusitis.

Help! My Child Keeps Getting Ear Infections

Ear infections sometimes seem like a constant companion through childhood. It’s true that kids suffer from more middle ear infections than adults, some that require medical attention. Here’s what you need to know to help your child through the cycle.