Summer time, summer time. Oh, how we all love summer time. The warmth of the sun brings a smile to our face and the bright light helps to lift our moods. The days are longer and with it our opportunities to get outside increase. While this can be good for our physical fitness and our mental wellbeing it does sometimes come with some dangers. UV rays from the sun can be harmful to our skin. Most skin cancers can be directly related to UV ray exposure. It is also important to remember that UV rays from tanning beds and sun lamps can also hurt our skin.
Tips for sun safety include:
- Stay in the shade- Avoid direct sunlight especially during the hours of 10 am to 4 pm when UV rays are the strongest.
- Cover the skin- Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to cover the extremities. Use a wide brim hat to cover your head and face.
- Use sunscreen- Use sunscreen on all areas of exposed skin, including ears, scalp, and lips. Make sure it is at least spf 30 and to apply 30 minutes prior to going outside. Check expiration dates to make sure they will still provide protection. And remember you need to reapply at least every 2 hours.
- Wear sunglasses- Make sure that they block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.
While, everyone should be thinking about sun safety and preventing skin cancer, some survivors are at an increased risk of danger from the harmful UV rays. Patients who have had external-beam radiation need to be aware that the skin where they had their radiation will always be more sensitive to the sun and will burn easier. Because of this they should always cover that area of the skin or use sunscreen when outside, even in the winter. We also recommend that skin cancer survivors have regular skin screenings by a dermatologist. Many dermatologists recommend taking full body pictures once a year and comparing them to the previous year to look for any less obvious skin changes.
As always it is important to discuss any skin related concerns with your medical team, however, The Nassif Community Cancer Center is here to help with your skin care needs. We have a skin care professional that we can refer you to. We also have a melanoma clinic. If you would like to schedule an appointment for these services or would like further information, please call (319) 558-4876. You can also get more information by going to our website at www.communitycancercenter.org
American Cancer Society. (2021). Retrieved from: How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From the Sun (cancer.org) July 14, 2021.
Submitted by: Heather N. Dommer, ARNP Survivorship Clinic