Because unprotected sun exposure is the leading risk factor in the development of skin cancer, including premature aging, dermatologists recommend the following precautions:
- Avoid the mid-day sun when the sun’s rays are the strongest – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, one that protects against both UVA and UVB, with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours – even on cloudy days – especially after swimming or strenuous exercise.
- Wear protective, tightly-woven clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when outdoors.
- Don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too. So apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.
- No Shadow…seek the shade! If your shadow is shorter than you are, you’re likely to sunburn.
- Protect children. Minimize sun exposure and apply sunscreen to children.
- Avoid reflective surfaces, such as water, snow and sand, which can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun’s damaging rays.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Contrary to the popular misconception that tanning beds are “safer” than natural sunlight, studies have shown that tanning beds still emit dangerous levels of UV rays and are considered by dermatologists to be a serious health risk.
In December 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services added VU radiation from the sun or artificial light sources such as tanning beds and sun lamps to the government’s list of known carcinogens.
- The AAD has designated each May as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. (For skin cancer statistics and risk factors, see the Skin Cancer page).
The first Monday in May is Melanoma Monday, designated as “National Skin Self-Examination Day” in order to raise awareness about melanoma and encourage individuals to begin a lifelong habit of regular skin self-examinations.