Just a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer. You don’t have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever you are outdoors, especially during the summer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. About 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV light.
In 2007, 58,094 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 33,041 men and 25,053 women; of those, 8,461 died from melanomas of the skin, including 5,506 men and 2,955 women.
(Public Health Department) encourages everyone to follow these simple tips to avoid sun damage:
- Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it’s happened.
- Cover up. Clothing that covers your skin helps protect against UV rays. Although a long-sleeved shirt and long pants with a tight weave are best, they aren’t always practical. A T-shirt, long shorts, or a beach cover-up are good choices, too—but it’s wise to double up on protection by applying sunscreen or stay in the shade when possible.
- Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection.
- Wear sunglasses. They protect your eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
- Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time you go outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet. Take sunscreen with you to reapply during the day, especially after your child swims or exercises. This applies to waterproof and water-resistant products as well. Follow the directions on the package for using a sunscreen product on babies less than 6 months old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if you or your child’s skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade. Keep in mind, sunscreen is not meant to allow kids to spend more time in the sun than they would otherwise. Try combining sunscreen with other options to prevent UV damage.
- Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours; and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.
For more information, go to www.cdc.gov.