With the passage of Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to summer has officially begun. Chances are you'll be spending more time in the sun for the next few months – don't let sunburn ruin your fun. Philip Leming, MD, an oncologist and hematologist with The Christ Hospital—and a skin cancer expert—recommends the following tips to protect your skin:
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Regardless of what the bottle says, it's a good idea to reapply sunscreen every two hours. No sunscreen is truly waterproof, so this tip is especially important if you've been sweating or swimming. Don't forget to cover your scalp, tops of your ears and the back of your hands.
- Avoid the sun during peak hours. Peak ultraviolet (UV) hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to stay out of the sun during this time. If you'll be outside during this time, try to find (or create) a shady spot where you can sit out of the sun.
- Wear sun protective clothing. A white T-shirt only provides the equivalent of SPF 4. Choose darker, tightly woven fabrics. Rash guards or swim shirts are a good option if you'll be in the water. Sunscreen combined with a protective hat and clothing provides ultimate sun protection.
- At the very least, don't burn. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for developing melanoma increases. If you've had a sunburn more than five times, your risk doubles. Melanoma causes the majority of skin cancer deaths, so do what you can to avoid sunburns.
One final tip from Dr. Leming: Never use a tanning bed. They increase your risk of melanoma exponentially!
Click here to read more detailed steps to prevent skin cancer.