Enjoy that summer sunshine — safely
It’s the beginning of June, and as usual, a sweltering Southern Maryland summer awaits — as do outdoor chores, recreational and athletic events and outside hobbies like walking along our local beaches, gardening, hiking and biking. That’s why it’s important to observe safe skin care practices any time you plan to be out in those unforgiving UVs.
Last month was Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, according to the American Cancer Society — and it makes sense, as we kicked off our summertime festivities with the Memorial Day holiday and the kids will soon be out of school until after Labor Day. But before we let them out of the house and watch them unleash their pent-up summer vacation energy with a deepend cannonball in the pool, let’s go over how best to keep their skin — and ours — safe from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sunny days aren’t the only days to practice best skin protection measures; even on cloudy or hazy days, that big burning ball of yellow can reach you with its potentially dangerous rays. The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are considered the most hazardous time to be outdoors in the U.S., and UV rays are the most damaging here during late spring and early summer. Certainly, we should all exercise caution in the sunlight any time we are outside, but these are the peak times of the day and year to be wary.
The CDC recommends the following simple tips for guarding against skin cancer this summer: 1) Stay in the shade, particularly during those blistering midday hours; 2) wear clothing that covers arms and legs if you must be outside for the day, and wear a hat with a wide brim to help shield your face, head, ears and neck from sun damage; 3) wear sunglasses — the best kind are a pair that wraps around and blocks both UVA and UVB rays; and 4) use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and with both UVA and UVB protection.
Another note on sunscreen: It wears off eventually. So you’ll want to reapply it every two hours if you’re in the sun any longer than that, as well as after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Also, make sure to check the expiration date of any sunscreen you’ve had lying around the house and planned on using again this year. The CDC reports sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no longer than three years, and that lifespan dwindles if it has been exposed to high temperatures. Make sure what you’re using is going to be effective.
You don’t have to forgo your favorite summertime activities to keep your skin safe from the risks of cancer. Just exercise a little common sense and follow the advice of health experts, and that can go a long way to ensuring you and your family stay well protected.
For more detailed sun safety tips, go to www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_ info/sun-safety.htm.