Labor Day is just around the corner, marking the end of summer. But that doesn’t mean the sun does any less damage. Last year, after spending Labor Day outside at a family picnic, I got home and noticed that my face and arms were burned. At first, I was fairly confused because the day hadn’t been that hot. But after consulting Google, I learned that I—like many people—had neglected sunscreen because I didn’t think I would get burned on a cooler day. So, learn from my mistake and protect your skin as the weather cools!
According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and almost 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. Despite efforts from the CDC, state health departments, and other agencies, rates of melanoma in the United States have continued to rise. Skin cancer is largely preventable, which means that by following some simple guidelines you can significantly lower your risk of skin cancer!
Sunburns are caused by specific types of rays from the sun (UVB), which are at their peak during the middle of the day and in the summer. UVB rays are responsible for training you to apply sunscreen when the sun is beating down on you, but UVA rays are common all year round! These rays do not cause sunburn—which is why they are used in tanning beds—but scientists have recently learned more about how UVA rays may cause premature skin aging and skin cancers.
What does all this mean? It means that we should be taking steps to protect ourselves all year round! Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your skin.
- Wear a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, meaning it protects from UVA and UVB.
- Apply sunscreen early and often. Did you know that you should put on your sunscreen before heading outside? You can also check the label to see how often you need to reapply. Generally, you should reapply every two hours, and after you have been swimming or sweating a lot.
- Wear UPF-rated clothing. Not all clothing will protect you from the sun. You want to look for items with a label that identifies the level of Ultraviolet Protection Factor.
- Remind your kids to find some shade. Kids may not be paying attention to how they are feeling in the sun. Finding shade may protect them from getting burned.
So the next time you are enjoying the great outdoors, take a moment to protect your skin! You can also share a #SunSafeSelfie and join all those who are sharing their sun safe behaviors with the CDC.