At this time of year, when the summer is starting to wind down, everyone gets a little lazy. It’s normal to want to spend your last month of sunshine laying by the pool or on a blanket at Addison Circle Park. But the one thing you shouldn’t be lazy about? Protecting your skin from cancer.
I’ve heard every excuse in the book: I tan, not burn; it’s cloudy; I put on sunscreen three hours ago. But skin cancer is not pretty – and should be taken seriously. It’s not just about rubbing sunscreen on every single day. It’s also about taking steps to actively protect your skin from harsh damage – before it’s too late.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70 – that’s more than all other cancers combined. And since most people finally understand the risk of tanning beds, about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun. If that doesn’t scare you, think about it this way: 90 percent of skin aging (that means you, wrinkles!) is caused by the sun. So, being safe in the sun helps you to stay healthier and look younger – it’s like a magic potion!
It’s easy to protect your skin outside. The American Academy of Dermatology gives a few tips: seek shade between 10 a.m.-2p.m., wear protective clothing when possible (like sunglasses, long-sleeves, hats); wear approximately one-ounce of SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen over your body every time you go outside and reapply every two hours or after sweating or swimming; avoid tanning beds; and see a dermatologist for a yearly check.
You should also do regular self-checks to look for a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds. Use a mirror to examine your entire body, and make sure to look at your feet, palms, under your arms, your scalp, your neck and other areas. If you have any concerns, contact your dermatologist right away.
Soaking up beautiful rays should be fun, not harmful. Don’t take a risk when it comes to your health – you can thank us later.