Summer sunshine is like balm for the soul after a cold, dark Michigan winter. But as good as that warm sun feels on your skin, the sun’s rays can be harmful, too, especially if you don’t take steps to protect your skin.
That’s because the sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a major cause of rapid skin aging and skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Taking a few steps to limit sun exposure is the best way to enjoy outdoor activities without harming your skin.
A leading provider of skin cancer treatments in Portage, Michigan, Southwest Michigan Dermatology helps patients protect their skin and prevent serious complications that can occur when we overindulge in the sun. In this post, learn five simple things you can do to keep your skin protected this summer.
This one might seem obvious, but you might be surprised how few people follow this simple, important tip. Data show that only about 13% of men and 29% of women wear sunscreen regularly.
To get the full benefits of sunscreen, you must wear it every day, including cloudy days and during the winter. Don’t be stingy with your product, either — you need about an ounce of sunscreen to cover your body. That’s about the same amount you could fit in a shot glass. Sunscreen should be reapplied every couple of hours — more often if you’re sweating a lot or in the water.
Sunscreen is essential for keeping harmful UV rays from penetrating your skin, but a layer of lightweight clothing offers a crucial physical barrier, too. Choose light-colored clothing, like long, lightweight pants or skirts, and a long-sleeved shirt or lightweight jacket or coverup.
Keep a hat on hand to shield your scalp, and choose one with a brim wide enough to shield your ears, eyes, and neck, too. Finally, wear sunglasses that offer UV protection to prevent potential eye damage.
Try to stay in the shade when you must be outdoors, especially on a sunny day. Not only can shade cut down on the UV radiation that reaches your skin, but it can help you stay cool and avoid drying out your skin.
Remember, while shade offers some protection from UV radiation, it doesn’t completely protect you, so you’ll still need to wear sunscreen. You should also watch out for sunlight reflected by sand, water, or other shiny surfaces since even this light can cause skin damage.
Potentially harmful UV rays reach the planet’s surface just about any time the sun is up — even if it’s cloudy outside. That’s because UV radiation can easily penetrate cloud cover.
But there are some times of the day when UV rays are at their strongest, and avoiding being outdoors during those hours can help. Generally, that includes the midday hours between 10 am-4 pm. If you must be outdoors during those hours, try to stay in the shade and reapply sunscreen every few hours.
Many people think getting a tan is OK as long as they use a tanning bed instead of the sun. But tanning beds use UV rays, too, and using a tanning bed is just as dangerous as lying out in the sun without protection.
Plus, a suntan isn’t a sign of health — it’s a sign of damage to your skin, and in the future, that damage can quickly lead to wrinkles. If you must tan, use a self-tanner or consider a spray-on tan.
With a little precaution, you can continue to enjoy all the outdoor activities you love this summer without damaging your skin. To learn how we can help you keep your skin healthy or to schedule a skin cancer screening, call 269-321-7546 or book an appointment online at Southwest Michigan Dermatology today.