The sun is shining, beckoning you to enjoy its warmth on your skin. We all know how good it feels to soak up its rays. We also know that too much sun over time can put us at risk for developing skin cancer. As the summer months ramp up and the sun becomes stronger, it’s a good time to separate skin cancer prevention facts from fiction so that you can safely enjoy the outdoors.
Fiction: A base tan will protect you.
Fact: When your skin comes in contact with the sun’s harmful UV rays, it produces more melanin, or pigment. As a result, your skin becomes darker. The increased pigment is your body’s way of trying to defend itself. A base tan on the skin merely indicates that damage from the sun’s UV rays has already occurred. Each subsequent exposure to the sun increases your risk of getting skin cancer.
Fiction: Only people with pale skin get skin cancer.
Fact: Don’t be fooled. Even though people with pale skin or blond or red hair sunburn much more easily, UV rays can damage skin of any color—even the darkest—and cause skin cancer.
Fiction: You’re safe from skin cancer if you use sunscreen.
Fact: Sunscreen is helpful if it’s broad spectrum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 or higher. For extended outdoor activities use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Reapply generously every two hours while working or playing in the sun, and after each dip in the pool or run through the sprinkler.
7 additional skin cancer prevention tips
The Skin Cancer Foundation offers the following tips
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
Stay healthy this summer
Consider signing up for CarePlus—a free concierge healthcare service. When you sign up for CarePlus our team will help you:
- find the right doctor
- get appointments quickly
- get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
- obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
- get your insurance questions answered