Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. With warm weather upon us, now is a great time to think about sun protection for you and your family. Regardless of your age or medical history, it’s important to be diligent about skin cancer prevention year round, and especially during the summer months when you are soaking up the sunshine.
Lauren Kyle, MD, is dermatologist at Blue Valley Dermatology and specializes in the treatment of skin cancer. Dr. Kyle shared her top skin cancer prevention tips with us.
- Limit sun exposure. Enjoy the sun for a short period of time, then move indoors or to a shady spot. A full day in the sun can more easily lead to sunburn.
- Use sunscreen. The most effective sunscreen is a broad spectrum sunscreen that guards against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. Cream provides better coverage than the spray.
- Reapply sunscreen often. You should reapply at least every two hours and more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily. It’s best to have a routine of applying sunscreen in the morning even if you do not expect to be outside that day. That way, you are protected if plans change.
- Wear sun protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and good quality sunglasses. Invest in a swim shirt and a few UV protective clothing items at the beginning of summer.
- Get an annual skin check by a dermatologist. Skin checks are not only for those who have sun damage or a prior history of skin cancer. Everyone should get regular skin checks.
Some of us are more prone to developing skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, you should be especially diligent to protect your skin from the sun if you:
- Have light-colored skin
- Have blue or green eyes
- Have blond, red or light brown hair
- Have previously been diagnosed with skin cancer or have a family history of skin cancer
- Have lots of moles
- Spend time at high altitudes
- Spend a significant amount of time outside
- Take medications that cause your skin to be sensitive to the sun.
Dr. Kyle says it’s important to keep an eye out for any skin changes and know the traits of atypical moles.
“Look for asymmetrical, irregular borders on moles or variations in color, increased diameter or moles that are evolving or changing over time,” said Dr. Kyle. “Anytime you see something new, changing or unusual on your skin, schedule an appointment right away with your dermatologist to get checked.”
To find a dermatologist, visit AdventHealthKC.com.