Sun Safety This Summer

Some people think about sun safety only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up every time you are in the sun. Children need special care. They tend to spend more time outdoors. They can burn easier, and may not know about the dangers too much sun can cause.

We all need some sunshine. It's our main source of vitamin D, which helps us take in calcium for stronger, healthier bones. But it doesn't take much time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they need. Repeated, unprotected time under the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, and skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society says skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It is nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are found in this country each year.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and each year more than 1 million Americans are told they have it. There are three main types of skin cancer but the most serious and deadly form is melanoma. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early. It can start anywhere on the skin. That is why it is so important to check your body all over for any moles or growths that are changing, growing in size, bleeding or that look different from the rest. The best way to do this is to stand in front of a full-length mirror and use a hand mirror to help view any moles, blemishes or birthmarks from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.

Most skin cancers are visible and can be diagnosed early and treated before they spread to other parts of the body. 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by too much time out in the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Over time, each time you are out in the sun too long without proper sunscreen, your chances of developing this type of cancer goes up. Research shows a link between sunburns in children and an increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer later in life. Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays can prevent nearly all skin cancers.

The best ways to lower the risk of skin cancer are to avoid long periods that you are in strong sunlight and practice sun safety. You can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors while using sun safety at the same time. Here are some ways to be sun safe:

  • Avoid staying out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade, mainly in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Cover up with clothes that protect you. Guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun.
  • Use sunscreen and lip balm with a product that covers all types of the sun’s rays (UVA, UVB) and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Put on a good amount of sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
  • Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat. Be sure it shades your face, ears, and neck. If you wear a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses with100% UVA and UVB absorption for the best protection for the eyes and the nearby skin.
  • Sunscreen doesn’t protect from all UV rays. Don’t use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun too long.
  • Follow these habits to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
  • Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are not safe. They also harm your skin.

Learn more about how to enjoy your time outdoors and to keep you and your family healthy at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer or www.fourcorners.ne.gov.