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Protect the Skin You're In

07-11-2017

It’s the middle of the summer, and you’re getting ready to head to the beach for a long weekend of hanging out by the ocean and soaking in some summer sun. There’s nothing like the feeling of the sun on your face while reading a good book and listening to the waves crash in front of you. In our rush for fun in the sun, however, we can sometimes forget about the importance of taking care of our skin. Here’s how you can still enjoy the sunshine while keeping your skin safe.

Summer Skincare Habits

Overexposure to sunlight has been linked to skin cancer, eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin. To avoid these common problems, follow these tips:

  • Wear clothing that covers your skin to protect you from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Keep it simple—Use sunscreen! Cover all areas of your body that are exposed to the sun. Apply sunscreen at a rate of one ounce every two hours.
  • Protect your head and eyes by wearing a hat and UV-resistant sunglasses, even on cloudy days.
  • Keep small children out of the sun for extended periods of time.
  • The peak burning hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you can, stay out of the sun by finding a cool place to hang out in the shade.
  • Be careful when you’re near a reflective surface like water, sand, or the windows of a building. Damaging rays reflecting off of these surfaces can cause sunburn.
  • If you’re somewhere with a higher altitude, you’re at a greater risk of being exposed to UV rays, so use extra caution.

Not All Sunscreens Are Equal

When choosing your sunscreen, it’s important to select one that best protects your skin from damage. Here’s what to look for when deciding what to buy:

  • Purchase a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. This will help protect against both long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Every sunscreen protects against UVB rays, but UVA rays can cause skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Only use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. SPF 30 sunscreens filter out 97% of UVB rays.
  • There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. Reapply every two hours and even more often if you’re swimming or being active.

Tanning Safety

We all love a good tan, but it’s important to make sure we’re taking care of our skin instead of damaging it. Whether you tan at the beach or indoors in a tanning bed, you’re exposing yourself to potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Tanning bed use, particularly among young people, is becoming more prevalent. 35% Of adults and 55% of college students have tanned indoors. People who use tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75%. In fact, one case study found there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking. In the U.S., 419, 254 cases of skin cancer are attributed to indoor tanning, with 6, 199 of them being melanoma.

Even if you’re tanning outside, it’s important to take proper precautions so that you can keep your skin safe. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from harmful rays.

Detect It Early

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer being treated in more than 3.3 million people each year in the U.S. alone. Thankfully, it’s also highly treatable if it’s detected early. If you spot anything on your skin that looks suspicious or wasn’t there before, see a doctor as soon as possible. Here are some warning signs to be on the lookout for:

  • A skin growth that grows bigger in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
  • A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or brown spot that is larger than the size of a pencil eraser and appears after age 21, changes color, size, or texture, and is irregular in outline
  • A spot or a sore that is continuously itching, hurting, scabbing, or bleeding
  • An open sore that won’t heal within three weeks

If you spot any of these irregularities, don’t wait. Contact a doctor right away. You can also perform self–examinations once a month that will help you detect any unusual growths. Once you learn the steps, these examinations should take no more than 10 minutes.

Happy Summer!

We only get one body, and it’s up to us to take care of it. During these hot and sun-soaked summer months, it’s more important to ensure that we’re keeping our skin free from harm and avoiding any unnecessary damage. Frederick Memorial Hospital wishes everyone a happy summer, and reminds you to put on some sunscreen before you hit the beach!



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