Summer often means vacations, beach visits, and time in the pool. However, it can also mean a heightened risk for skin damage. Sun exposure is associated with many forms of skin cancer as well as cosmetic issues, such as increased wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots. Thankfully, there are ways to enjoy the summer and protect your skin, too.
Ali Hendi, MD, and our highly trained providers in Chevy Chase, Maryland, provide a wide range of skin care services, including skin cancer surveillance, treatment, and preventative care. As part of preventive care, we’re sharing five ways you can help protect your skin as the temperatures rise.
Sunscreen is one of the most important ways to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays when you’re outdoors. Get in the habit of applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or 30 to your skin 15-30 minutes before you go outdoors. Sunscreens that are rated SPF 15 deflect 93% of UV rays, and ones that are rated SPF 30 bring that number up to 97%.
A good amount of sunscreen should take about a full minute to rub in. And, if you go to the beach, you should aim for at least one ounce — the size of a shot glass — on the face and body if you’re an adult. Particularly large individuals may require more. If you’re going to be sweating a lot, swimming, or staying outdoors for a long time, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Your skin doesn’t need to burn to experience damage from the sun. So even when you’ve applied sunscreen, aim to spend some of your lengthier outdoor times in the shade. If you’re playing volleyball in the sun, for example, take breaks in the shade of a tree or park awning.
You can also provide your own shade by holding an umbrella. And, if you have a choice between one shady tree or a group of shady trees, choose the group. The group will provide more UV protection due to the layering effect.
You can also protect your skin from the sun with protective clothing. Wide-brimmed hats are especially useful in helping protect you from the sun.
You can also purchase clothes that have a sun protection factor (UPF) rating. These clothes are designed to limit the amount of UV radiation that reaches your skin. Clothing with a UPF rating of 50 will block 98% of UV rays.
Even if you take all of the above steps to protect your skin from the sun, you won’t be completely immune to UV rays. Whenever possible, aim to avoid the hottest hours of the day, which are generally 10am-4pm.
The more direct the sun is above you, the more likely you will be to experience its adverse effects. When you do have a midday or early afternoon obligation outdoors, stay extra mindful of the steps listed earlier, such as wearing sunscreen and seeking shade.
Seeing Dr. Hendi regularly for skin checks can help ensure that any early signs of skin cancer are addressed early. The earlier skin cancer is addressed, the more treatable it is. These checkups also give you a chance to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your skin and sun protection.
Skin cancer surveillance is especially important if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer or many or unusual moles.
To learn more about caring for your skin in the summer, or to get skin care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ali Hendi, MD, today.