Summer fun is on the way. In the tropics is is always summer so being sun smart is a year round job. The southern states are now warming up and the time is right to put in place your sun plan. Buy fresh sublock, check the sun suits are not deteriorating and talk to the kids about taking responsibility for their sun protection.
Avoid the sun during the middle of the day. The sun’s rays are strongest between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day, even in winter or when the sky is cloudy.
You absorb UV radiation year-round, and clouds offer little protection from damaging rays. Over the years I have treated hundreds of severe sunburn cases from cloudy day exposure. Avoiding the sun at its strongest helps you avoid the sunburns and suntans that cause skin damage and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Sun exposure accumulated over time also may cause skin cancer.
Wear sunscreen year-round. Sunscreens don’t filter out all harmful UV radiation, especially the radiation that can lead to melanoma. But they play a major role in an overall sun protection program.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring. Use a generous amount of sunscreen on all exposed skin, including your lips, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your hands and neck.
Wear protective clothing. Sunscreens don’t provide complete protection from UV rays. So cover your skin with dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than a baseball cap or visor does. I’ve lost count of how many ear skin cancers I’ve had to remove from peaked caps!
Don’t forget sunglasses. Look for those that block both types of UV radiation — UVA and UVB rays.
Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications. Some common prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antibiotics, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medications you take. If they increase your sensitivity to sunlight, take extra precautions to stay out of the sun in order to protect your skin.
Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor. Examine your skin often for new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching it is timely to get sun smart!