Did you know that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month? As we unofficially kick off the summer season with Memorial Day next week, it’s important to understand sun safety guidelines and prioritize them during the hot months when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and the majority of cases are a result of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although anyone can get skin cancer, people who should be especially careful are those who:
- Have fair skin
- Have red or blonde hair
- Have freckles
- Spend a lot of time outside
- Live in or travel to hot climates or high altitudes
- Have had skin cancer previously
- Are sensitive to light (due to medications or otherwise)
- Have had many sunburns
- Burn before tanning
- Have a condition that weakens the immune system
- Have a family history of skin cancer (especially melanoma)
- Have many moles that are irregular or have recently changed in appearance
To protect both you and your family, make these practices a habit to stay sun-safe:
- Cover your skin. As much as possible, wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs, a hat (wide-brimmed is best) and sunglasses that indicate they block 99% of UV light.
- Settle in the shade. Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV radiation is the most intense. Another good test is to check your shadow: If it’s short, it’s a good indication that shade is in order.
- Say no to tanning beds and sunlamps. Both send UV light directly to the skin, creating high risk for long-term skin damage and symptoms that can lead to cancer.
- Apply the right sunscreen (more than once). Sunscreen is a must for any exposed skin, and it’s essential to use the right stuff. Look for sunscreen that has broad spectrum protection, which means it protects against two different kinds of UV rays: ultraviolet B rays that cause sunburn and ultraviolet A rays that contribute to wrinkles, premature aging and cancer. You also want your sunscreen to have an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, which filters out 97% of ultraviolet rays. Higher SPF values do provide more protection, though they make a smaller difference as the number increases. Ideally, sunscreen is also water resistant (not waterproof) and specifies how many minutes it’s effective when you’re in contact with water.
The use of sunscreen really is crucial: When it comes to applying it, do so generously. Use about a palmful to cover the arms, legs, neck and face — and don’t forget about the ears, hands, feet and underarms! Also be sure to reapply every two hours, plus more often if you’re swimming or sweating to get the best results.
If you’re interested in placing your business name on an item for a summer safety promotion, here are a few great choices:
- SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen: Made with the mineral zinc oxide, this broad spectrum sunscreen provides SPF 30 and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Its full-color label allows you to customize it with your logo, event or message.
- Sunscreen Combo: This product combines SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen in a tottle and SPF 15 broad spectrum lip balm, allowing recipients to protect not only areas like the arms and legs, but also lips — which can easily be forgotten.
- Trace Cap: With an adjustable back strap and pre-curved visor, this cap is great for helping shade the face and eyes on bright summer days.
Which safety tip will you focus on practicing? Preventing skin cancer is worth it, and you can share your name as you do!