Sun Safety in North Texas
Summer is here! …And that means more time at the pool, the park, and generally going out and about. While soaking up all that vitamin D can boost your mood and put an extra spring in your step, you and your family can also be putting yourselves at risk of skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays—in as little as 15 minutes of exposure!
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. More than 5.4 million cases of non–melanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in last year, and it’s estimated that the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2019 will increase by 7.7%.
But there’s a fun way to stay safe! This video produced by the Centers for Disease Control highlights the importance of sun safety and gives you and the kids actionable tips to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Your risk of melanoma doubles as soon as you’ve had more than five sunburns, which means just about everyone is susceptible. This quick video serves as an important reminder to take the health of your skin seriously this summer.
Below are some additional tips to reduce your risk of both sun damage and skin cancer.
Never forget sunscreen
Sunscreen comes in multiple forms—lotions, sticks, sprays, and gels—and is the number-one recommendation as a defense against sun-related diseases and skin cancer.
While it’s universally accepted that wearing sunscreen is an essential preventative measure, deciding which sunscreen is best is still up for debate. People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on a daily basis have shown 24 percent less skin aging than those who don’t. And while a higher SPF is encouraged, dermatologists recommend simply finding a sunscreen you like and sticking to it.
A good rule of thumb is to apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes prior to going outside. It should be applied thick enough that it takes time to rub it all in. If your skin is extra sensitive to the sun, apply more when you head outside. And if you are at the pool or on a hike and sweating off most of your sunscreen, make sure to take a break and reapply it every two hours.
And remember, you might not feel yourself getting burnt (especially if you are in the pool). But it will happen if you don’t apply sunscreen regularly.
When choosing a sunscreen, especially in Texas, look for one that is waterproof. While sweat and water will eventually wash any sunscreen away, a water-proof product makes it last longer.
And finally, ensure the product you choose provides broad-spectrum protection. This means it filters both UVA and UVB light. While sunscreen is one of the best preventative tools against skin cancer, it is important to remember that it’s still possible to get burned while wearing protection.
When applying sunscreen, it’s important to not forget lip protection, too! Sunburned lips not only hurt, but they can be just as harmful to your health. The lips are a common place to develop skin cancer due to their constant exposure to the sun. Look for lip products that contain an SPF of 15 or higher. Also, if you are planning to be in the sun for an extended amount of time, it’s best to avoid lipstick since the ingredients can actually attract the harmful rays.
Wear the correct clothing
We understand that always wearing long sleeves and pants in the oppressive Texas heat isn’t even remotely reasonable. While sunscreen helps keep sunburn and cancerous skin cells from forming, the best prevention is still to wear clothes!
That said, even lightweight cotton and linen shirts allow a good deal of the sun’s harmful rays to pass through. Sun shirts with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) limit the amount of UV light that passes through the fabric. These are a good option for when you will be outside for extended amounts of time. In addition, consider wearing tightly–woven clothes to provide the most protection, and pair it with a wide brimmed hat if you plan to be in the sun for hours at a time.
It’s our goal for each of our patients to have a happy, healthy and sun safe summer. Keep these tips in mind as you head out the door in coming months!