Summer is finally here! The air is warm, the pool is open, the outside beckons, but so do the UV rays.
During summertime, the sun's rays are very strong, which makes swimming rather enjoyable, but getting sunburns all too easy. Not only do they hurt, but sunburns also increase your risk of getting skin cancer. Obtaining more than five sunburns can double one’s chances of developing skin cancer, so make sure you're protecting yourself.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (most common), squamous cell carcinoma (second most common), and melanoma (less common, yet more dangerous). While sunburns run rampant during this season, the sun’s rays do not to be have to be feared if you take the right precautions. Here are a few easy, preventative measures recommended by Dr. Jesse Kramer, a dermatologist with Mercy Medical Group:
- Stay protected! Apply broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher (depending on your coverage needs) to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Basic sunscreens only prevent sunburns, so make sure the sunscreen is labeled "broad spectrum." Water resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen is most effective.
- Apply enough sunscreen! This cannot be stressed enough. Applying too little sunscreen reduces its effectiveness, increasing the chances of getting a sunburn. It is recommended to apply one full ounce of sunscreen to the entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Cover up! Wear broad-rimmed hats or shade caps to protect your scalp and ears from burning. Make sunglasses part of your daily routine, and remember to wear them while outdoors and driving. Sunglasses labeled “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “meets ANSI UV requirements” are the most effective sunglasses. They block out at least 99 percent of UV A and B rays. Cosmetic sunglasses, or sunglasses without a label, may not block out as much UV radiation.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps! These devices emit harmful levels of UVA and UVB rays. So, while the sun may not be hitting the body, the damaging UV rays still are. Remember UV rays from any source can be harmful.
The sun provides us with important Vitamin D and allows plants to grow. Do not completely hide from the sun in order to avoid UV rays. Instead, take the appropriate preventative measures to minimize your risk of skin cancer, while also allowing for the enjoyment of the warm, summer days.
Dr. Kramer is currently accepting new patients looking for dermatology care. His practice is located at 3000 Q Street in Midtown Sacramento. Please visit MyMercyMedicalGroup.org or call 916.733.3304 to learn more or make an appointment.