It’s finally summer, which means emerging from the indoor cocoon and embracing the warm weather outside. People are walking, hiking, swimming, and going on trips. But all of the quintessential summer activities involve sun exposure, and with skin cancer diagnoses on the rise it’s important to identify ways to protect yourself.
The first way to protect yourself is, of course, to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be applied about 30 minutes before going outside, and make sure you’re putting on enough! An easy way to measure out the appropriate amount of sunscreen for your whole body is to fill up a shot glass. Any kind of sunscreen is better than none, but it’s best to look for one labeled “Broad Spectrum”. Choose SPF 15 for normal everyday activity, and SPF 30 for intense outdoor exposure like the pool or beach. Reapply at least every two hours and immediately after swimming or heavy sweating.
Another way to protect yourself is to cover up! A wide-brimmed hat is a common go-to for people to make sure their heads are covered. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a brim measuring 3 inches or greater to ensure coverage for areas commonly missed with sunscreen, like the tops of the ears and back of the neck. You can also protect your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses. Covering your torso with a long-sleeved shirt can also help. Companies like Solumbra create clothing designed to repel UV rays to ensure optimum protection.
The key to prevention is ultimately diligence as well as early detection. Keeping an eye on any new spots and performing routine self-checks will help you be better informed. Then if any new spots come up or existing spots change, you know when to contact your dermatologist for a visit. This graphic below from The Skin Cancer Foundation outlines how to perform a monthly self-exam at home. If you notice any suspicious-looking spots, don’t hesitate to call us at 804-549-4040 to schedule an appointment.