By April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN
Summer is in full swing; vacation season is well underway; and time at the pool, the beach or the park is at the top of everyone’s list. With more time outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer — the most common cancer in the United States. Follow these summer sun safety tips to protect your skin this summer:
- Seek Shade — During the midday hours, when the sun is strongest, find shade under an umbrella, a pavilion or a tree.
- Wear Proper Clothing and Accessories — Clothing and accessories can be powerful tools to defend against the sun’s harmful rays. Wear a hat to protect your head and scalp, sunglasses to protect your eyes and a shirt with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating to keep your arms covered and safe.
- Wear and Reapply Sunscreen — Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater before spending time outdoors. Be sure to reapply after swimming or toweling off or if you spend more than two hours in the sun.
- Avoid Tanning — Though many people enjoy tanning poolside, at the beach or in a tanning bed, avoid tanning to prevent damage to skin that can lead to skin cancers.
- Perform Regular Skin Checks — A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an already existing mole or a new growth. If you notice any changes in your skin, review them with your health care provider, and be sure to schedule an annual full-body, professional skin exam. If you have a history of skin cancer, regular skin checks are especially important.
Contact your primary care provider — and consider a nurse practitioner — if you have any additional questions about keeping you and your family safe from the sun this summer!