With the pandemic keeping people indoors and starting to subside, many people will start taking advantage of the summer months by spending more time outdoors than before. With high skin exposure, it’s critical to understand the proactive and preventative measures you should take to protect yourself from skin damage, or even worse, skin cancer – the most common cancer according to Cancer.org.
Damage to the skin can happen in as short as 15 minutes. These tips can help protect your skin as the temperatures continue to rise.
Apply Sunscreen & Repeat. Often.
Not only is wearing sunscreen a must, but it’s important to reapply throughout the day – a step many forget to do. The best protection comes from multiple applications. One layer will not fully protect your skin, especially if you plan to be outside for an extended period (i.e., pool, lake, beach, hiking).
While we mostly think of wearing and reapplying for outdoor activities, wearing sunscreen should become a part of your everyday hygiene routine. Apply facial sunscreen every day after your morning face washing. Many facial moisturizers and makeup products include SPF protection. Wearing at least 30 SPF every single day will help prevent skin cancer or burns, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Lastly, be sure to check expiration dates on your skincare products, including your sunscreen. It’s a common misconception that sunscreen doesn’t expire when, in fact, it does, therefore double-check if it’s past due. If so, it will not work to its normal capabilities and serve as a proper defense mechanism for your skin.
Wear Protective Clothing.
The summer months in Arizona can be brutal, causing people to dress lighter and more accordingly to mitigate the high temps. With that, there are strategic ways to take advantage of the various apparel items that keep you cool and protect your skin. Common items such as hats and sunglasses are go-to options that help everyone from small children to older adults. It’s recommended to use sunglasses that have quality UV protection. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you should choose sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
The combination of Arizona’s extreme temperatures and dry heat makes it almost too easy to become dehydrated. The skin is a living organism, and if it experiences dehydration, it prevents the ability to heal. Staying hydrated facilitates the healing process if a sunburn were to happen.
By consistently following these tips and keeping each other accountable, you and your loved ones will protect yourselves and each other from short and long-term skin damage.
Carrie Bates, P.A., is an area medical manager overseeing eight HonorHealth FastMed clinics in the Phoenix Metro area and Florence. Her background is in family medicine and urgent care. She earned her B.A. in biology from Arizona State University and M.S. in physician assistant studies from AT Still University. She is a fitness competitor and is a former Division 1 athlete, playing on the ASU women’s basketball team.