The temperatures are starting to dip and the sun is setting early. Your first impulse may be to stow your favorite SPF under the sink, but as I tell my patients, protecting your skin against UV damage is a year-round commitment.
Sun damage that causes cancer is cumulative throughout your life. That means that whether you’re walking to your office in January or out jogging in midday July, it’s adding up. UVB rays are “burning rays,” causing sunburns and are key in skin cancer development. They’re strongest in summer and surrounding months. “UVA rays” can lead to premature skin aging and can contribute to skin cancer. These rays are present year-round. In fact, as much as 80 percent of the sun’s rays can go through clouds and fog, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Even if it is cloudy, and cold, you’re still getting UVA exposure when you’re outdoors.
I have seen so many golfers, tennis players, bikers and runners who look older than their years. The thing that really gets me, is they really do tend to take care of themselves but they go out and don’t wear enough sunscreen, wear hats or protective clothing. “Winter “is the perfect time to start daily habits surrounding sun protection. Prevention is key, from small steps like wearing daily sunscreen to a more broader approach.
- I recommend using sunscreen SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis. Both women and men can find a daily moisturizer with SPF included. I also recommend products labeled “Broad Spectrum,” which protect against both types of UV rays.
- Resist the urge to get a glow through tanning beds. Tanning booths primarily emit UVA. Just one tanning session increases someone’s chance of developing skin cancer. For example, tanning before prom, can contribute to cancer found decades later.
- Consider a wide-brimmed hat, protective clothing, UV blocking sunglasses and find shade if you’re outside.
If you think you can procrastinate about worrying about skin cancer, think again. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and melanoma is the deadliest within the category.
Winter months are a perfect time to schedule your annual skin check. Call 910-640-0899 to schedule your annual skin exam.