Tips for Preventing Summer Skin Damage
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. In fact, one in five will develop some type of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common, accounting for an estimated 4.3 million diagnoses each year. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for more than 1 million cases annually. Melanoma, the skin cancer most likely to be fatal, kills more than 7,000 people each year.
While even non-fatal skin cancers can cause disfiguration if left untreated for long, squamous cell carcinoma can metastasize and spread to other tissues and organs, becoming life-threatening. Fortunately, the easiest way to prevent developing any type of skin cancer is to protect your skin from sun damage.
The vast majority of skin cancers—including 90 percent of nonmelanomas and 86 percent of melanomas—are caused by UV exposure. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend your summer indoors. Regular use of sunscreen or sunscreen-enhanced products with SPF 15 or higher has been shown to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer by as much as 50 percent.
Consider the following tips to keep you sun-safe this summer:
· Apply sunscreen every day. Look for a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB product with an SPF 15 or higher for daily use and SPF 30 or higher if you intend to spend extended time outdoors.
· Apply sunscreen liberally. If applying to your entire body, you’ll need at least two tablespoons—don’t skimp. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
· Apply sunscreen early. Don’t wait until you’re at the park or the pool to put your sunscreen on. For best results, apply the product 30 minutes before you go outside.
· Seek out shade. Whether you’re at the beach or gardening in your yard, shade will provide additional protection from the sun’s harmful rays. If natural shade isn’t available, make your own with an umbrella and a hat with at least a three-inch brim.
· Cover up between 10 AM and 4 PM. These are the hours when UV rays are strongest, so be sure to protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses and your body with ample clothing. Tightly-woven linen is both cool and protective. Beach skirts and sarongs allow you to catch a breeze while shielding your skin from the sun.
· Don’t forget your scalp and hair. If you’re not wearing a hat, it’s easy to sunburn your scalp in mere minutes outdoors. While you can use any spray-on sunscreen for protection, those made specifically for the scalp will leave your hair feeling less greasy and gunky. Consider COOLA’s Scalp and Hair Mist SPF 30.
· If you do get a sunburn… treat your skin gently. A cool bath will temporarily sooth sunburned skin, as will liberally applying a moisturizing aloe vera lotion or gel. If blisters form, leave them alone and continue to moisturize even if your skin peels. Most important: stay out of the sun until your sunburn has healed.
By Angela Rose for Creative Images Institute of Cosmetology