With May also being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, this is the perfect opportunity for us to educate ourselves on the basics of sun safety. There are several things you can do to avoid getting burned.
- Use sunscreen - and a lot of it. Sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 should be liberally applied before going into the sun, and then reapplied every two hours or more often when getting wet. The higher the SPF, the better, and you should ideally use a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Limit your exposure to the sun. The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are when the sun is at its most intense. If possible, minimize your time in the sun during that time.
- Wear protective clothing. While covering up exposed parts of the body works best, that's often extremely uncomfortable during the summer heat. However, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses can be helpful, and clothing with built-in ultraviolet protection is also available.
We all want to have fun in the sun, but it's important to do it responsibly. A tan simply isn't worth the risk of getting skin cancer. For more information and sun safety tips, visit the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.
-Ed Partridge, M.D.