Long gone are the days of sunbathing slathered in baby oil. We know so much more about the negative effects of the sun’s harmful rays, and protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) rays is critical for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Sun exposure is the primary cause of skin cancer, and doctors see over 75,000 new cases of melanoma each year.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America, so it’s important to recognize it as a serious condition. In some cases, it can be debilitating and make it impossible to work or perform daily activities. When skin cancer gets to this point, it’s possible for a person to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Strategies for Reducing the Risk of Skin Cancer
There are simple ways to avoid a sunburn: stay in the shade during midday hours and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. But here are some other strategies for keeping safe when you’re out in the sun:
- Remember your feet. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to the tops of your feet and your ankles.
- Check your sunglasses. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear a hat. Be sure your hat has a brim wide enough to protect your face and neck.
- Don’t wear white. Many people believe that wearing white or pale colors during the summer months are the best for reflecting the sun’s rays. However, bleached material doesn’t have pigments that absorb UV light before it gets to the skin, so white doesn’t protect you. A better color to wear in summer is red.
- Apply your sunscreen inside. The chemical formulas in sunscreen work by absorbing UV rays, and to be effective, the sunscreen must bind to the proteins in the skin. This is a process that takes approximately 20 minutes. So, make your first application inside to give it time to work.
- Don’t use sunscreen that’s been left in a hot car. The heat breaks down the active ingredients in sunscreen, so it’s less effective the more often it’s heated up.
- Beware of certain medications. Serious burns can result when common medications react with UV light on the surface of the skin. This reaction is called photosensitivity and can happen if you take everyday products that contain ibuprofen and naproxen.