HCU News
Summer Skin Care Tips
Posted Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by Mike Trevino

It's no big secret that skin cancer can be deadly, but still, the numbers are a little frightening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, 61,061 American men and women were diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, and over nine thousand of them died. These numbers don't include basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas—which are often the most deadly kind. Fortunately, skin cancer is largely preventable. A little awareness and protection from the summer sun will go a long way to ensuring your skin stays youthful and cancer-free.

The American Cancer Society has made a series of recommendations for limiting sun exposure any time you're outdoors:

  • Seek shade. This is an easy one if you're just relaxing outside, one you're probably already employing to keep yourself out of the hot daytime sun. Sit under a tree, a covered patio, a porch, or a beach umbrella. You'll not only protect yourself from the sun, you'll feel more comfortable, too. UV light is strongest between 10am and 4pm, and often, UV rays are more powerful during the early spring, when low humidity provides less of a barrier to their transmission. Seeking shade and shelter is especially important then.
  • Cover up. If you have to be out in the sun, doing yard work or playing a sport, for example, then providing a wearable physical barrier to the sun's rays is the smartest option. Choose lightweight but tightly woven clothing. Dark colors are generally more protective than light colors, and you want to choose long sleeves and long pants to cover as much skin as possible. Cotton and linen are great natural choices—they don't trap much heat—but there are new synthetic fabrics like Under Armour that also work.
  • Slather it on. Surprisingly, the American Cancer Society puts sunscreen application about midway down its list of good ways to limit sun exposure. Turns out, even with faithful application, sunscreen still allows UV rays to penetrate. It does filter out much of the damaging rays—hence the name "screen"—but some still gets through. The ACA stresses that sunscreen should not be used to extend time spent in the sun. That said, sunscreen is still a useful product, and it's worth applying if you're going to be outside.
    • Seek out sunscreens with protection against both UVA and UVB rays that have an SPF factor of 30 or higher.
    • Choose "water resistant" sunscreens—these have been tested to hold up to 40 to 80 minutes of swimming or water play.
    • Make sure it isn't expired. Sunscreen's active ingredients are only effective for a few years.
    • Use generously—a palmful to cover an adult's upper body.
    • Reapply after two hours.

Like any physical activity outside during the summer, you want to get in the habit of taking a few precautionary steps before leaving the house. It'll spare you the discomfort of a sunburn, surely, and may even save your life.

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