May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. As nicer weather pulls us outdoors for hobbies, sports and leisure activities, its up to us to protect ourselves and play it safe while doing so. While increased exposure to the sun without adequate protection can increase your risk for skin cancer, you can still enjoy the outdoors and safely play in the sun by adhering to the “Five S’s of Sun Safety.”
- SLIP on a t-shirt – clothing can be one of the most effective barriers between the sun and skin. Look for a high UPF rated fabric or a closer weave for best protection.
- SLOP on SPF 30+ broad spectrum UVA sunscreen. Remember, no sunscreen provides complete protection. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply at least every 2 hours and right after swimming. Don’t forget to protect your lips with an SPF 30+ lip balm.
- SLAP on a broad brimmed hat. An ideal hat will shade the face, neck and ears so find a bucket style hat with a minimum 3-inch brim with a close weave or UPG rated fabric.
- SLIDE on quality sunglasses. Solar UV radiation can be damaging to the eyes so quality sunglasses labeled with a high EPF that also wrap around the sides offer the best protection.
- SHADE from the sun whenever possible. Seek shade whenever possible but especially during the peak hot times of day between 11am and 3pm when UV penetration is strongest. Combine the above safety measures with shade for ultimate protection.
Small amounts of skin exposure to solar UV radiation are essential in the production of vitamin D and are beneficial to our health. Vitamin D is important in the development and protection of strong bones and teeth. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ recommendation to sun exposure, research shows that 15 to 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, without skin reddening or burning, per day should be sufficient for most people to produce the required levels of vitamin D.
So get out there and enjoy this lovely weather! Just remember to play it safe. 🙂