Protecting Yourself from Sun Exposure

Sunlight is the main source of ultraviolet (UV) rays and having a lot of exposure to UV rays puts you at greater risk for skin cancer. However, we spend a lot to time outside exercising, gardening, walking or at the beach or pool.

But, you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays. For example, you can limit your UV exposure by simply staying in the shade. Also, try and avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight for too long especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV light is the strongest.

Here is a catchphrase recommended by the American Cancer Society that can help you remember the steps you need to take to protect yourself — “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!”

Slip on a shirt — wear clothing to cover your skin.
Slop on sunscreen — It can protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
Slap on a hat — a 2- to 3-inch brim hat can protect your ears, forehead, nose and scalp.
Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them — without them you can increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.

Applying sunscreen properly

  • When choosing a sunscreen, make sure it is SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection. Apply sunscreen generously to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your lips.
  • Read labels carefully. No sunscreens are waterproof or “sweat-proof.” So, make sure to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or more often if you are swimming or sweating. When you towel yourself dry, the sunscreen usually rubs off, so you will need to apply more.
  • Avoid tanning beds

Most skin doctors recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma especially if someone started before the age of 30. If you prefer a tan, try using a sunless tanning lotion to give your skin a darker appearance minus the danger.

Protect children from the sun

Children spend more time outdoors. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention and protect them from excess sun exposure. Be a good role model and teach your children skin cancer prevention habits. You should develop a habit of applying sunscreen on yourself and your children before going outdoors or if you will be exposed to large amounts of sunlight.

Remember to protect yourself year around, even when in the mountains, out on the water, and around reflective surfaces like snow and ice.