After undergoing a lumpectomy, Karen McGowan of Swedesboro faced questions that thousands of women face every year. Will I need chemo? Radiation? Some other treatment? And because it was March 2020, another question was on her mind. Would she be comfortable going to a hospital for treatment just as COVID-19 was arriving in South Jersey?
The summer months bring with them sunny, warm days and more outdoor activities. But when we spend more time outside, we put ourselves at risk for skin issues.
“We associate the summer months with beach days, barbecues and lounging in the sun,” said Nandini Kulkarni, M.D., FACS, Director of Surgical Oncology for Inspira Health. “These fun activities make it easy to forget about the need to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.”
When left unprotected, DNA in the body’s skin cells can be damaged from UV rays, which can lead to genetic mutations or defects, ultimately leading to skin cancer.
Here are five ways to protect your skin when going outside during the summer months.
1. Use sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy.
“When the sun is bright and the sky is clear, using sunscreen is at the forefront of people’s minds,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “But when the sun disappears behind clouds, its UV rays are still present. It’s important to use sunscreen when you’re outside no matter how clear the skies are.”
2. Reapply, Reapply, Reapply
The initial coat of sunscreen you put on before going outside won’t last all day, even if you’re not sweating or spending time in the water. If you’re simply lounging around, reapplying every two hours is sufficient. If you’re swimming or doing other activities causing you to sweat then you should reapply once every hour.
3. Choose Carefully
Not all sunscreens are created equal. To get maximum protection from your sunscreen, choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both types of UV rays—UVA and UVB. It should also be water-resistant and have a sun protection factor (SPF)—a relative measure of how long the sunscreen protects you from UVB rays— of 30 or higher to properly protect you.
4. Mind The Time
The hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are when the sun’s rays are the most potent. During this time of day, extreme caution should be taken when outside, and babies should be kept inside if possible.
5. Use Accessories to Your Benefit
Hats and sunglasses aren’t just for fashion. If you’re out in the sun, wear both to protect your face and eyes. Choose a hat with a wide brim that shades your full face and sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
To make an appointment with an Inspira cancer specialist call 1-800-INSPIRA.