Sun exposure is a natural part of life. Most people enjoy getting a little sun as its warmth can be relaxing and boost their spirits (especially at the beach or on vacation!). However, these feel-good side effects of the sun come with a dangerous tradeoff. There are over 3 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the United States, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays cause over 90% of them. While venturing out into the sun has its perks and can be enjoyable, people needs to take necessary precautions so that they do not risk their health in the process.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- People who use tanning beds are 2 ½ times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1 ½ times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional visits to the tanning bed triple the chance of developing melanoma. The notion of using a tanning bed to achieve a “base tan” before heading to the beach is absurd. Protecting the skin before and while at the beach is the only precaution that needs to be taken. Period.
- Seek the shade.
- When outside, it is imperative that people seek the shade. Not only does the shade provide relief from heat and prevent dehydration, but it also protects the skin from the sun’s direct ultraviolet rays. This is especially true during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Do not burn.
- Wear sunscreen and apply it every two hours to avoid burning in the sun. Even once sunburn can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. At the first sign of a sunburn (redness or tenderness of the skin), seek the shade immediately.
- Cover up.
- Hats and clothing can be the most effective forms of sun protection. Densely woven fabrics that are bright or dark-colored offer the best defense against the sun’s UV rays. Sunglasses are also important for shielding the eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Serious conditions from cataracts to melanomas of the eye and eyelid can be avoided by wearing sunglasses.
At Medical Dermatology Specialists in Atlanta, we are dedicated to helping you keep your skin protected from the skin’s damaging rays. We want to partner with you so that the sun does not damage your skin. Dr. Jamie Weisman is an expert in the specific types of skin cancer and can help you become self-aware of your skin cancer warning signs as well as prevent the known causes of skin cancer. Dr. Weisman is an advocate for all of her patients’ health.