In Florida, skin cancer prevention is not just a summertime concern.
Even though sunscreen is sold all year long, you’ve probably seen more prominent displays popping up in stores now that summer is upon us. Bottles of tanning lotion and various types of sunscreens for all members of the family are conveniently located next to the beach towels and bathing suits. It’s definitely a good idea to coat your skin with sunscreen before swimming, water sports and other outdoor activities, but you should also make an effort to protect your skin all year long. Remember, the sun’s rays penetrate through the clouds, reaching your skin on even the most dismal days.
Four Fast Facts About Protecting Your Skin
- Sunscreens are used to help prevent the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin. Sunscreens are labeled with a sun protection factor, or SPF. Most doctors suggest you use an SPF of at least 15 on most days—30 or higher if you are going to be outside for an extended period. Regardless of SPF, sunscreen should ideally be reapplied every two hours.
- Anyone over the age of six months should wear sunscreen daily. Babies under that age should not be exposed to the sun. Multiple types and brands of easy-to-apply sunscreens for sensitive skin have been developed for children.
- Many moisturizers, after-shave lotions and even makeup have sunscreen already in them. This is a great way to wear sunscreen on a daily basis without added effort, but if you work outside or spend a lot of time outdoors, you should wear “regular” sunscreen—the kind you’d apply at the beach.
- Inform your doctor if you notice any new moles, freckles or spots on your skin. You should also watch existing moles for changes such as itchiness, bleeding, shape, size or color. Moles may turn into melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. A mole check or skin cancer screening is a visual examination of your skin during which a doctor looks for any potential skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology even partners with dermatologists around the country to offer free skin cancer screenings.
For a broad overview of skin cancer, visit St. Petersburg General Hospital’s Health Library.
Have more questions about sun protection or skin cancer? Join Suzanne Johnson, DO (left), for Don't Take Your Skin for Granted. This free lecture will be held on Tuesday, June 26, at noon at Freedom Square Auditorium in Seminole. Dr. Johnson will discuss information, prevention, early detection and prompt treatment of one of the largest organs of the body—your skin! Just call toll free 1-888-741-5122 to register.