Temperatures are rising and days are getting longer—it's summer! While it's a great time of year for outdoors activities, the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days do present some seasonal health concerns. Here are some tips and information to help make this summer a great one and a healthy one.
Skin Cancer Statistics
There is nothing better than sitting outside and soaking up the sun, but there are serious consequences to not protecting exposed skin. Exposure to sun without using skin protection can cause skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the United States. On average, about one- third of adults will get sunburnt this summer. It takes as little as 15 minutes for sunburn to develop, even though it takes a while longer before the side effects of the sunburn begin to appear. Tanning beds can cause similar effects of being exposed to severe sun damage.
How to reduce your risk
Skin cancer is particularly special type of cancer, because there are steps that can be taken to prevent the cancer. It is important to avoid direct sunlight from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During these hours, the sun's rays are at its peak strength. If being in the sun during peak hours is unavoidable, it is important to use sunscreen that has UVA and UVB protection. The SPF of the sunscreen is important; the CDC suggests that sunscreen should be at or above 15 SPF. After 2 hours, sunscreen must be reapplied. It is necessary to reapply more often after getting out of the water, drying off with a towel or sweating. Wearing things like wide brimmed hats and clothing to cover exposed skin can help shield you from direct sunlight. Lastly, if there are areas that provide shade, sitting in these areas can help reduce direct sun exposure.
What to look for
If you know that you have experienced more than your fair share of bad sunburns, there are things to look out for on your skin. The CDC uses the A-B-C-D-E acronym as follows:
- A: Asymmetrical: Does the shape of the mole or spot on the skin have an irregular shape?
- B: Border: Does the mole or spot have a defined border around it?
- C: Color: Is the color uneven?
- D: Diameter: Is the diameter larger than a pea?
- E: Evolving: Has the mole changed in the recent months?
If any of these get a yes answer, it is strongly suggested to visit your primary care physician or a dermatologist to analyze the spot. It is best to be proactive when it comes to your skin.
Events to look for
Annually, Augusta Health holds a free skin cancer screening. The screening is held one evening in May. Watch for advertisements about this event and make sure to make an appointment!
If you would like more information on skin cancer, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm.