A Message from Rich Stoneking: As someone who suffered from a basal cell carcinoma I want everyone to be aware of the risks of skin cancer and provide you with some information to hopefully help you protect your skin.
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to think about how we can keep our largest organ healthy while having ‘fun in the sun.’ Summertime sun is great in small doses, but staying out for too long can severely damage your skin, as well as lead to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells in the body. While there are three different types, the most common type of skin cancer is from overexposure to UV rays caused from being out in the sun unprotected.
Whether you’re down at the Jersey Shore or soaking up the sun on your summer vacation, here’s some advice we have to help you avoid skin cancer:
Wear a hat while walking: Wide brimmed hats that cover your face, ears, and neck are an excellent way to prevent skin damage. They provide shade to some of the most tender areas on the body that are more susceptible to damage.
“Why should I wear a hat if I’m going to be in the shade?”
Wearing a hat outside, even in the shade, will keep your skin safe from harmful UV rays. Anything you can do to amplify skin safety is a good thing to do.
Apply sunscreen: Sunscreen is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin from damage. If you’re going to be outside doing anything that involves sweating or being in water, you should apply sunscreen a minimum of 30 minutes before you set out to do your activity… and don’t forget to reapply!
“But what about cloudy days?”
You should absolutely apply sunscreen on cloudy days. You’re more likely to get sunburned on cloudy days than sunny days because the water particles in the clouds amplify the sun’s UV rays.
Be cautious of your medications: A lesser known side effect of some medication is sensitivity to sun exposure. Always consult with your doctor about any medications you may be taking. Certain medications can put you at higher risk for sunburn, which in turn may put you at higher risk for skin cancer.
“Okay, now hang on…can your medications really do all that?”
Yes! From certain antibiotics to diuretics, you can find a whole host of general medications, both prescription and over the counter, that can cause sun sensitivity. Always make sure you talk to your doctor when taking any medications.
Stay in the shade: From 10am to 4pm during the summer is when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest. Staying in shaded areas will greatly improve your chances of avoiding skin cancer or sunburn.
“But that’s most of the day!”
It is, yes. Just because that is when the UV rays are the strongest, doesn’t mean you have to spend the whole time in the shade. Applying and reapplying sunscreen, wearing a wide brimmed hat, and taking general precautions will help lower your risk.
While it may seem impossible to enjoy any ounce of summer with the risks being so high, there is always a silver lining. Being cautious, following through with proper skin care and safety will greatly reduce your chances of harming your skin in the long term and help keep your body healthy. By following these tips and the tips from your doctors, you can enjoy your summer to the fullest without having to worry about what may be lurking around the corner.