Shield the sun, not the fun: Reduce your risk of skin cancer

By Danielle Rohrbough, APRN, FNP-BC

Summertime is all about outdoor fun. Unfortunately, this includes exposure to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can leave us with a sunburn or worse – skin cancer. Prevention is key for longevity and a healthy lifestyle.

Danielle Rohrbough, APRN,

According to the National Cancer Institute, melanoma rates have tripled over the past three decades. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but it is easily preventable by taking the proper precautions.

Use these tips to protect yourself in the sun this summer:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) 30 to all exposed skin. This type of sunscreen protects you from both types of harmful ultraviolet radiation – UVA and UVB.
  • Decrease your sun exposure during 10 am-4 pm when UV rays are most potent. Also, avoid sun tanning or using tanning beds.
  • Seek shade, when available, or use an umbrella, tent, or shade cover/canopy.
  • Wear protective clothing when possible, such as hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, and sunglasses.
  • Use extra precaution when you’re around reflective surfaces, such as water. 
  • Be aware if any medications you are taking make you more sensitive to sun exposure.
  • Vitamin D should be absorbed through a healthy diet and supplements when necessary. 

Also, be sure to apply sunscreen correctly, so that you don’t burn:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Use a generous amount of sunscreen to cover your face, neck, back, shoulders, arms, and legs. Don't forget to apply to underarms, feet, and hands.
  • Sunscreen does expire, so check the instructions on the container. Reapply every 2 hours even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating.
  • If you are using spray sunscreen, apply and rub into your skin, then re-apply and rub into your skin again to get the maximum effect.

Know your ABCDEs

Be sure to check your skin from head to toe monthly for any suspicious areas and see a doctor for an annual skin check.

  • Asymmetry: Moles should be symmetrical. If folded in half, the two halves should match. 
  • Border: Moles should have smooth and even borders.
  • Color: Moles should be all one color. Having a variety of colors could represent a warning sign of skin cancer.
  • Diameter: If you have a mole that is bigger than a pencil eraser, have it examined by a doctor.
  • Evolution: A mole that changes over time could be suspicious.

Make an appointment: 855-WVU-CARE