Getting outside is a nice way to spend your time with the friends and family. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get Vitamin D. You can work and play outside without raising your skin cancer risk by protecting your skin from the sun. While the summer months can increase your risk of damaging your skin due to the UV rays, it is also important to keep in mind skin damage. Protection from UV rays is important all year, not just during the summer. UV rays can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays tend to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).
Please take some time to watch a video from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Ways to protect you from the sun:
- Sunscreen - Put on broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher before you go outside.
Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States. Skin cancer can be serious, expensive, and sometimes even deadly.
When spending time outdoors. Staying in the shade, wearing a wide-brimmed hats, wearing sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt, and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher—can lower your chances of getting skin cancer and protect against signs of sun damage such as wrinkles and age spots.
Please be careful of the dangers of Ultraviolet Radiation.
Sunburn is an often painful sign of skin damage from spending too much time outdoors without wearing a protective sunscreen. Years of overexposure to the sun lead to premature wrinkling, aging of the skin, age spots, and an increased risk of skin cancer. In addition to the skin, eyes can get burned from sun exposure. Sunburned eyes become red, dry, and painful, and feel gritty. Chronic exposure of eyes to sunlight may cause pterygium (tissue growth that leads to blindness), cataracts, and perhaps macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
Symptoms of a Sunburn
Unlike a thermal burn a sunburn is not immediately apparent. Symptoms usually start about 4 hours after sun exposure, worsen in 24-36 hours, and resolve in 3-5 days.
- Red, warm, and tender skin
- Swollen skin
There is no quick cure for minor sunburns:
- Symptoms can be treated with
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain and headache and reduce fever.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water
- Taking cool baths
- Applying gentle application of cool wet cloths on the burned area may also provide some comfort.
- If you work outside, try to avoid further sun exposure until the burn has resolved or cover up the burn the best you can.
- Applying a topical moisturizing cream, aloe, or 1% hydrocortisone cream can help relieve pain.
- A low-dose (0.5%-1%) hydrocortisone cream, which is sold over the counter, may be helpful in reducing the burning sensation and swelling and speeding up healing. (CDC)
What is Skin Cancer?
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common types of skin cancer. They begin in the basal and squamous layers of the skin, respectively. Melanoma, the third most common type of skin cancer, begins in the melanocytes. (CDC)
What are Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same.
Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin.
The skin is the body's largest organ and protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D.
Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells:
(Adapted from the National Cancer Institute)
- Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis. Cancer that forms in squamous cells is called squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
- Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells. Cancer that forms in basal cells is called basal cell carcinoma.
- Melanocytes: Found in the lower part of the epidermis, these cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to tan, or darken. Cancer that forms in melanocytes is called melanoma
Skin Protection (Sunblock)
What does SPF stand for?
Sun Protection Factor (SFP)
Have you heard the misconception that SPF relates to time of solar exposure? For example, many consumers believe that, if they normally get sunburn in one hour, then an SPF 15 sunscreen allows them to stay in the sun 15 hours (i.e., 15 times longer) without getting sunburn. This is not true because SPF is not directly related to time of solar exposure but to amount of solar exposure. Although solar energy amount is related to solar exposure time, there are other factors that impact the amount of solar energy. (Adapted from the U.S Food and Drug (FDA))
Checking Birth marks/Moles
(Adapted from the National Cancer Institute)
- Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin.
- Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
- Different factors increase or decrease the risk of skin cancer.
Ways to provide protection from the prolong exposure to the sun
- If you can, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when possible.
- Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.
- SPF refers to how long a person will be protected from a burn. (SPF 15 means a person can stay in the sun 15-times longer before burning.) SPF only refers to UVB protection.
- To protect against UVA, look for products containing: Mexoryl, Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone.
- Sunscreen performance is affected by wind, humidity, perspiration, and proper application.
- Throw away sunscreens after 1–2 years (they lose potency).
- Apply liberally (minimum of 1 oz.) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
- Apply to ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
- Reapply at least every 2 hours and each time a person gets out of the water or perspires heavily.
- Some sunscreens may lose their effectiveness when applied with insect repellents. You may need to reapply more often.
- Wear clothing with a tight weave or high-SPF clothing.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection and side panels.
- Take breaks in shaded areas.