Is there any better way to unwind than relaxing in the sun, drinking a cold iced tea, and enjoying a spring breeze? As we head into the summer months we tend to spend more and more time outdoors. Spending time outdoors is beneficial for so many reasons including increasing Vitamin D and our activity levels. However, too much sun can make a good thing not so good for us. A little skin protection and general hot weather safety will go a long way in letting us enjoy a good warm day.
May has been designated Skin Cancer Awareness Month with hopes to build awareness of ways to protect the skin, the need for regular dermatologist visits, and the causes and treatments of skin cancer.
Why should seniors care about skin protection?
Sun damage myth would have you believe that most of the harm occurs before the age of 18 years old. However, studies have shown that sun damage is actually accumulative; only 23% of a lifetime exposure happens by the age of 18. Skin cancer is a disease that between forty and fifty percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have been diagnosed at least once. Most forms of skin cancer— including the deadliest form, melanoma—can be prevented. While it is the most common form of cancer in the United States it is also the most preventable type of cancer. Awareness and frequent skin checks are essential for preventing and treating this cancer.
Tips for protecting your skin this summer:
Seek Shade – When the sun is at its strongest, between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon, the best way to still get to enjoy the outdoors and protect your skin is to seek the shade. Hang out under a sun umbrella or covered patio area and avoid direct sunlight.
Cover Up – While long sleeves and pants in the summer may seem counter-intuitive it can go a long way in sun protection. Wear lighter weight clothing with long sleeves and pants to help protect your skin while not overheating. Don’t forget your hat and UV-blocking sunglasses!
Wear sunscreen‑ The most critical part of avoiding skin cancer is avoiding getting a sunburn. Sunburns are proof of skin damage by the sun. Plus, they hurt. Avoid sunburns by following the top two tips and by wearing sunscreen.
Self-examine your skin and visit a dermatologist regularly: Give yourself a good head-to-toe examination of your skin once a month to look for early warning signs of skin cancer. Visit with your dermatologist once a year or if you find anything suspicious in your self-examination.