2012 boasted the sunniest spring in Chicagoland in 18 years. Since summer promises to be more of the same, it is important to play it smart when you’re out in the sun.
Whether you are working, gardening, golfing, swimming or simply enjoying the great outdoors, you must be aware of the sun’s dangerous rays. Too much sun now can add up to skin cancer problems in the years ahead.
Remember a few simple guidelines:
- Sunscreen is essential. Everyone should wear sunscreen in the summer, no matter your skin tone. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours — even if you’re using waterproof sunscreen.
- Cover up. A brimmed hat can shield the scalp and face from the sun. Don’t forget to cover the back of the neck with a hat or collar, and the tops of the ears. These often-forgotten spots are easy targets for skin cancer.
- Stay away. If possible, avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest: between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Kids need extra care. It’s great to have kids play outside in the summer, but they need to be careful about it. Sun damage done before age 18 is what can lead to skin cancer later in life. In addition to sunscreen, cover children with UV-rated protected— especially those with fair skin and especially when they’re in water.
- Bundle up your baby. Babies under six months old are too young for sunscreen. Keep them out of the sun when possible, and protect their skin with clothing, a floppy hat and an umbrella. After six months, use a child-safe sunscreen, and continue using the hat and cover-up.
By following those few simple tips, you can keep your skin healthy and safe, while still enjoying the outdoors.
Information by Dr. Tina Venetos, board-certified dermatologist with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.