Spring is here! March 19, 2020 is the first official day of Spring. It’s time to get outside and come out of hibernation after a long winter. Whether you enjoy gardening, going for a run, or just have to take your dog for a walk, you should be prepared for the harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. There are many things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure that everyone is protected as you enjoy the Spring weather.

UVA and UVB, What’s The Difference?

UV radiation is made up of UVA and UVB rays and both cause damage to the skin. UVA causes aging, age spots, eye injuries and cataracts. UVB is responsible for sunburns, which can lead to more damage and is a major risk factor for melanoma.

Sun Protection Safety Tips

It is more important than ever, as the rate of skin cancer has increased dramatically over the last decade, to take extra precautions with your skin now that the nice weather has arrived. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with more skin cancers being diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined.

We all need some UV exposure to maintain our Vitamin D levels, but it is still extremely important to protect ourselves from the harmful rays. Below we’ve listed 4 simple way you can protect yourself and your family as we enter Spring.

1. Be prepared and don’t be caught off guard:

  • Make sure to have protective clothing with you.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp, forehead, nose and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Apply sunscreen and be sure to select products with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30+ that protects against both UVA and UVB light. Reapply as needed.
  • Avoid excessive sun and UV exposure.

2. Avoid tanning beds:

All tanning increases your risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Stay away from tanning beds! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, indoor tanning beds increase your risk of developing life threatening melanoma by 75% from just one indoor tanning session.

3. Make sunscreen a part of your everyday life:

Apply sunscreen everyday as part of your morning routine. Reapply if you are going to be outside for more than 2 hours. Even if it’s cloudy out, the risk of UV damage still exists. Remember to always protect your skin.

4. Check your skin regularly:

Skin cancers are often treatable and curable if found early. Conduct regular, monthly skin self-exams. This could save your life! A full skin exam includes areas that are traditionally not exposed to the sun. Be sure to check the scalp, soles of the feet and hands. Skin abnormalities can occur anywhere on the body. Scheduling a full skin exam once a year to be checked professionally for any abnormalities is also recommended.

Sun Safety Quiz

Take the Sun Safety Quiz by the American Cancer Society to find out if you are protecting yourself.

Schedule an appointment

As one of the largest melanoma centers in the United States, the Saint John’s Cancer Institute Melanoma Center conducts landmark research to identify new or recurrent melanoma at its earliest stages. We predict and monitor the response to systemic treatments and develop active and passive immunotherapies for surgical and nonsurgical patients. We also offer a multidisciplinary team approach, which allows us to offer a personalized and compassionate treatment plan for all of our patients.

Schedule an appointment with us if you or your primary care doctor have observed any changes in the appearance of your skin, such as finding a new growth, a change to a previous growth or a recurring sore.

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About the Author

Dr. Trevan Fischer

Dr. Trevan D. Fischer is an Assistant Professor of Surgical Oncology at Saint John’s Cancer Institute. He is also the Assistant Program Director of the Complex Surgical Oncology Fellowship program at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. Learn More About Dr. Trevan Fischer.