Dermatologists urge the public to “practice safe sun” when outside this holiday weekend to reduce the risk of skin cancer
An estimated 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, yet many Americans will put themselves at greater risk for skin cancer over the upcoming holiday weekend. New data from the American Academy of Dermatology reveals that while most Americans will use sun protection at the beach or pool, many won’t use sun protection when enjoying other outdoor activities such as jogging or cycling, ultimately increasing their risk for skin cancer.
With Memorial Day closing out Skin Cancer Awareness Month this May, the AAD is asking holiday weekenders, “Do you use protection?,” and providing tips to “practice safe sun” outdoors, even on cloudy, snowy or rainy days. UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma, the deadliest form.
“It’s easy to remember to use sun protection when you’re at places like the beach or the pool,” said board-certified dermatologist George J. Hruza, MD, MBA, FAAD, president of the AAD. “However, many people forget to cover up or apply sunscreen during everyday activities such as spending time in the backyard, walking the dog, driving a car or mowing the lawn. Any time you’re outside and unprotected from UV exposure, you can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.”
Dr. Hruza suggests the following tips for practicing safe sun whenever spending time outdoors:
- Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Dress to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen to all skin that clothing won’t cover. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. “Broad spectrum” means that the sunscreen will protect you from UVA and UVB rays – both of which can cause skin cancer.
“It’s also important to use sun protection on cloudy days,” said Dr. Hruza. “Snow, sand and water increase the need for protection because they reflect the sun’s rays. So, no matter what the weather brings this weekend, remember to use protection.”
Up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still make it through the clouds, but the AAD found that only one in five Americans always or almost always use sun protection when outside on cloudy days, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous UV exposure.